Acts 5:27-32,40-41, Apocalypse 5:11-14, John 21:15-19
Do You Love Me More than These?
It is always a fact that we will always prove to love Jesus. It is always a certainty that no one will claim not to love the Lord. When Jesus asks Peter today “do you love me more than these, Jesus’ question goes beyond the mere affirmation of our love for Jesus.
The love that we have for Jesus also demands a lot of responsibilities on our part. It demands our closeness, it demands sacrifice, closer relationships, love for the sheep, care for the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden, it demands deep love and sincerity of our worship of God.
This question today has implications even in the first reading. In essence, the question demands living for the sake of the gospel, to be living witnesses of the gospel and to give our lives totally to God.
This is what Peter and the other disciples did in the first reading. In the second reading, we can see the vision of John.
No one will claim not to love Jesus, of course, we all love Jesus but when we go through this gospel we can certainly understand that loving Jesus is not merely by saying it. It is a task full of responsibilities.
The Encounter with Jesus.
First of all, today’s gospel happened after the resurrection and after a great miracle. Peter who with the other apostles toiled all through the night but could not catch any fish became hopeless until Jesus came to the scene.
This is one of the post-resurrection events in which Jesus continues to appear and show himself again to the disciples.
This miraculous and life-changing event happened at the Sea of Tiberias. What happened is that Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, James and John and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter tells them that He wants to go fishing, so they went together for the fishing.
When Jesus appeared to them, the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something. They obeyed.
Therefore this encounter with Jesus today was a life-changing one. Any encounter that we have with the Lord is always a life-changing encounter.
What Truly Led Jesus to Them.
After the resurrection event, it was reported that the apostles and disciples locked themselves in the room because of the fear of the Jews.
They were in a state of hopelessness and fear. They thought that the death of Jesus was a dead end. Some of them like Thomas and other disciples also have lost faith, because of this Jesus was appearing to them one by one to strengthen their faith.
One thing we can observe during Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to His disciples and apostles was that He was appearing to them at the point of their needs.
In John 20:19-29, when the disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders and locked themselves in a room, suddenly, Jesus appeared to them.
He greeted them with peace and assurance that he was alive. Therefore, His presence is to convince and dissuade them from living in fear.
In John 20:24-29, when Thomas doubted the resurrection, Jesus also appeared again just to strengthen his faith.
When Mary Magdalene was crying at the tomb seeking to see Jesus, He also appeared to her.
When the disciples walking to Emmaus are confused at what happened, Jesus also appeared to them to direct them. Now when they were at the point of need, hopeless, weak and already planning to go home, Jesus came at the point of their need. This is an act of true love.
This is how Jesus shows us how He loves us too, even when we are in deep need. What led Jesus to the scene is to strengthen their faith more, solve their need, show them love and strengthen the faith of Peter in what lies ahead of Him.
Therefore, When He asks Peter “do you love me more than these, He is reminding Peter how He has already loved him, by pointing at the miraculous fish, then demanding Peter’s positive response to this love.
Therefore, the question demands that he reciprocates this love that Jesus has for him. In the same way, the question demands that we reciprocate this love that Jesus has for us.
Do You Love Me More than These?
When Jesus appeared to them, the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked them if they had caught anything?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’
So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’
At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak around him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.
The presence and instruction from Jesus changed the whole story. Peter was so surprised by this miracle, hence comes the question “do you love me more than these?
What does Jesus mean by these? “These” as a word signify something plural. When Jesus was saying this, He may be pointing at the fish.
The fish there represents Peter’s possessions, material acquisitions, His hobby, likes and desires etc. Also while pointing to the fish, Jesus is referring to the miracle that happened.
Therefore, when He asks Peter, do you love me more than these, He asks do you love me more than your desires, material acquisitions, pleasures, desires, you love Jesus more than these miracles?
In the same way, we can then ask ourselves; Do we truly love Jesus more than we love money? If we can even kidnap and kill for money, can we go to any extent to prove our love for the Lord? Do we love Jesus more than our positions?
Can we still maintain our faith and morals despite our works, services and positions?
Also, is the love I have for Jesus only based on wonders and miracles? Is the love I have for Jesus only based on what He does for me? When problems come, can we still maintain our faith? Do we love Jesus only because of signs and wonders?
Can I sincerely love Jesus whether good or bad? Why did you lose faith? Am I working for Jesus because of what I will gain?
Secondly, by asking Peter this question, Jesus is telling us what true love is. Because it has not been long Peter denied Jesus, so the question would have been ” Peter why did you deny me?”
How could you lie Peter? But here, Jesus is teaching us that true love bears no grudges. True love is shown in moments of betrayal, challenges and troubles. Such as God loves us even though we are sinners ( Romans 5:8).
Therefore, the question also implies that we truly love our neighbours. In 1 John 4:20, the scripture says that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
If we love God, we have to show it in our actions, the way we worship and our relationship with others.
Let Love lead.
Peter, having denied the Lord three times, was also asked by the Lord three times. He first asks him “do you love me more than these? Then Jesus repeats the essential question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
These three questions hit Peter like a repeated hammer. And three times Peter’s denial ” I do not know who He is” was changed to “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
Here, the past was swallowed, despite the pains and denial, love won the victory. Love conquers all. The easiest way to end grudges, hatred etc is to show love. Love is not easily angered, love does not keep a record of wrongdoing ( 1 Cor 13:5).
To show you truly love Jesus, remember his command to love and forgive one another, it is the only way to show we are his disciples ( John 13:35). If you truly love Him, go back and burn the records of the past, the denials and betrayal and begin a new life. Love bears all and endures all things. ( 1 Cor 13:7).
The Implication of Divine Love.
1. Now just as Jesus will always appear to the disciples at the point of their needs, He is always making Himself available to us at the point of our needs. He is there in the Eucharist to satisfy our hunger. Jesus is there at the confessional, to grant us forgiveness and remission of our sins.
Jesus is there every day in the Blessed Sacrament to have a conversation with us.
In the same way, He wants us to do the same to the world. He wants us to nourish the world with our gifts and talents.
He wants us to feed the world with the gospel message, to save the lost and bring back souls to Him, this is why He says to Peter feed my lambs.
2. This is what we see in the first reading. The apostles were willing to even sacrifice their lives to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
They conquered fear, intimidation, persecution, etc for the love they have for Jesus. Therefore, if we truly love God, we have to become living witnesses of the gospel. When people see us they see Christ.
3. It also demands obedience to the word of God. In the first reading, the apostles courageously affirmed before the persecutors that nothing will make them disobey God.
They said, “We must obey God rather than men”. Here, we see people who take the word of God as the first and not the last. Here, we see people who take the word of God as a light to souls in darkness, as a light that guides them.
Therefore, they do not want to depart from it. In the same way, if we love God we have to keep to His word. It affirms what he says in John 14:15, Jesus says “if you love me you must keep my commandment.
What would have happened if Peter didn’t obey Jesus? The consequence is clear; there will be no miracle, there will be no multiplication, and they have still left in hopelessness. But with just simple obedience, they were rewarded. Let us do the same.
4. It is noteworthy that three times the Lord responded to Peter’s affirmation of love, “Feed My lambs, Shepherd My sheep and Feed My sheep.”
First, Jesus uses “my” to denote that the work Peter is going to do is not his but that of Jesus. The souls handed into our care are not ours but that of Jesus. Secondly “feed, shepherd” is a task to continually take care of these souls, guiding, protecting and keeping them from being lost.
It entails caring for the well-being of the flock. Granted, some of the sheep can be stubborn, and difficult to handle. But if Jesus loved them enough to die for them, then we all have to love them, too. Not for our own sake but for the sake of Jesus.
1. Then If we say we love Jesus, we have to be willing to serve and work for Him. Many around us are following the wrong way, let us bring them back to God.
Many people are facing great challenges, encourage them, there are much dying of hunger, we can touch their lives if we can.
If we love Jesus, we have to show this love to others and forgive them of their trespasses.
This we are doing not for our own sake but for the sake of the one we love; Jesus. Let us live in love, this is the only way to show Jesus how much we love Him.
2. Today, we have thousands of churches, ministries, prayer groups etc, yet in our homes, we are ripped with divisions, hatred, jealousy, backbiting and wickedness among Christians. Yet we always profess how we love Jesus.
We speak in tongues and pray out of fear. We forget to live in love and charity.
The question, do you love me more than these also means can we love Jesus more than these divisions?
Can we make peace among ourselves because of who we are? If Jesus is the first, then let us do the needful.
3. Through His guidance, the hopeless apostles made an extraordinary catch of fish. In essence, it means that we cannot do without Jesus.
In John 15:5, Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing”.
Therefore, we cannot do without Him. We need His strength, We need His grace and we need His mercy always. He is the surest way to salvation and eternal life.
4. Also this encounter between Jesus and Peter today is one of the references to Peter as the head of the apostles.
Therefore, Jesus chooses Peter and Peter was the first pope, through his lineage we have other chief shepherds of the church.
Then the injunction to tend my sheep and feed my lamb, indicates that as shepherds our first concern should be how to touch lives and tender these souls.
This injunction is not only for priests and bishops but to all of us. We have to be the instrument that will always bring souls back to God.
5. So, in the question, Jesus also asks us if we love anyone more than Him. Can anyone make us lose our faith in Jesus?
Is Jesus the first in our lives? Do we love anything more than Jesus? If we can spend time with the people that are close to us, can we also give the same to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?
Do we put Jesus first or money? Who is the first in our lives? Therefore, the question “do you love me more than these ” should be a recurring question that should direct our minds and hearts to the true light.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to love Him sincerely. May He never allow you to stumble Amen