When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The Incarnation is easier to remember in Advent or Christmas than the Easter season. It often seems far away from our daily lives. Even the word “incarnation” echoes of theological mystery contained in the head. But if it stayed there alone, we’d never be able to encounter the genuine relationship that Jesus hopes for with us.
In today’s Gospel, we see a fleshy Jesus—a Jesus among his friends. We see a Jesus who cooks and eats, a Jesus joining them in the monotony and joy of a meal. It’s in the fleshy, incarnational presence which he shows them love.
He teaches Peter this love with his questions and responses: “Do you love me?” Then, go and do. Jesus asks Peter not for the heady idea of love, but the messiness of tending and feeding sheep. It is in this incarnational encounter of the day-to- day that we love Jesus—and others.
Draw Me Into Your Friendship
Lord Jesus, from the start
You invite ordinary people to come to where you live.
When they come, you welcome them
And call them to labor and rejoice with you.
You are the most beautiful among all men,
And I hardly believe you want me for your friend.
You are powerful, Lord.
Draw me more and more into your friendship
And lead me along the way you took with friends.
—Joseph Tetlow, SJ