1.Acts 5:27-32.40b-41
2. Rv5:11-14
Gospel: Jn21:1-19

                                      " Do we love Jesus?"

Many times from my personal experience, I have come into realization that a rose flower is said to be a perfect symbol of romance. It lasts only for days. It withers and fades away. What remains are the thorns, the symbol of sufferings. We can truly love if we can behold not the rose but the thorns. Let profess our love for Christ. We are aware of the thorns that will come our way and yet, hopeful that roses will bloom in the everlasting spring.

Today's gospel describes the appearance of the Risen Lord to His seven disciples: After the disciples were with Jesus for several years with excitement and joy until that crucifixion, the disciples returned to their formal occupation. May be the disappointed and discouraged, Peter and the other six apostles got into their boat to go fishing but caught nothing until Jesus, at day break, told them to cast their net once again and haul in a great number of fish. The disciples join the Risen Lord for the breakfast and after the meal Jesus asked Peter, for three times, how much he loves Him. Peter affirmed his love for Jesus.

We can also ask ourselves this question that why did Jesus ask Peter three times? I think there was a reason for that. Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter really loved Him. It was three times that Peter denied Jesus during His moment of agony, and passion, and it was three times that the Risen Lord gave him the chance to affirm his love. Jesus in His gracious forgiveness, gave Peter the chance to wipe out the memory of the threefold denial by threefold declaration of love. Moreover, Peter is given the chance to make/ amend his moral ways and start over again. A threefold profession of love undid the triple denial. Peter no longer boasted that he loved more than the other did.

In English, when Jesus asks " Do you love me?" it all sounds right. But in Greek we find that Peter is not exactly responding to the very question Jesus is asking him. In the Greek Bible, there are three words for the word "love." There is eros, which means sensual or erotic love, the kind the kind of love that lies in senses and the emotions. Then there is philia, meaning love of the likeable, the admiration and devotion we have for a worthy person or thing. Likeable love dwells in the mind that judges the object of love worthy of it. Finally there is agape, which means self-sacrificing and unconditional love, even for a person who may not deserve it and when there is nothing tangible to be gained. Agape love is in the will.

In our worship services we often sing hymns that profess our love for Jesus. Think of " O, How I love Jesus" or " O, the Love of the Lord is the Essence." Peter challenges us today to realize that hymns like these only tell half of the story. The other half is that there is a part of us that does not love God, that denies the Lord when our life, our future or our well-being is at stake. Peter's example invites us to bring this negative side of us to God for healing. So today let us join Peter in his confession: " I love you, Lord; help my lack of love."

For us today Jesus is telling us that we are supposed to love just like that, the agape love, even to the point of giving our lives in love for others. In St. John's gospel, during the last Supper, the night before he gives his life for us, Jesus tells us, " remain in me." We remain in Jesus by being faithful to Him and be people of prayer. Today's gospel passage speaks about remaining in Jesus by being people of love. In some other parts of John's gospel, Jesus says: " As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love. This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you. Lay down your life in love for your friends."

Jesus says to Peter: " Feed my lambs." naturally a lamb is an animal that is delicate and defenseless and so it has to be fed and cared for like a baby like by giving food and milk in order for it to grow and becomes strong. In other words, Jesus wants us to love the concrete people around us, our spouses, children, parents, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and everyone in town;  to be patient, kind, and nonviolent with the people in our day today lives, and love them and keep on loving them, no matter what, no matter how difficult. To love everyone we meet in our lives is the essential Christian calling.

Jesus says, "Tend my sheep." When a lamb becomes a sheep, it can graze for food and so what the shepherd has to do is to tend the sheep and see to it that it does not go astray from the group. In other words, following Jesus, Jesus wants us to be a community of love, not just individual persons of interpersonal love but a people of communal love, a community, a parish, a town of great love.  What would take for us to become a community of love as God wants? I think it means that as a community we have to stop any hostility, gossip, resentment, and bitterness we may have toward anyone else in our daily living.

From the readings today, we also learn how to become a good leader. The trait of a good leader is that of being a servant. A Japanese industrialist was asked what Americans most need to know in order to become more successful in business. The man said: " Business is a form of servant hood. Americans must learn to serve." A good leader is the servant because he attends to another; he cares for the needs of others; he sacrifices for another to achieve. For us too, we should also care for the needs of others.

Let me end my sharing with this little story that I read from a priest's homily. There is one man known by name Gandhi, one day Gandhi stepped aboard a train, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. He was unable to retrieve it as the train was moving. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did so, Gandhi smiled: " The poor man who will find the shoe lying on the track," he replied, " will now have a pair he can use."

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Chapisha Maoni