“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” -John 21:17
Have you ever been grilled by a parent? Your Mom or Dad asking a question and then repeating it a second and a third time. Each time you become more fearful and you begin to sweat.
Imagine how Peter felt in today’s post resurrection gospel. Jesus cooks breakfast over a charcoal fire and Peter denied Jesus 3 times around a charcoal fire. In front of his fellow apostles, Jesus asks Peter 3 times: “Do you love me?” In frustration, Peter says ”Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.
Some scholars say that Jesus uses the Greek word “agape” meaning unconditional and generous love in the first two questions. Peter uses the Greek word “phileo” in each of his three answers. Phileo means affection and companionable. In his 3rd question, Jesus uses “phileo”. Maybe this is Jesus’ way of enabling Peter to think about his relationship with Jesus on a deeper human level. This passage is urging us to examine our relationship with Jesus, our family, and others in light of unconditional love. (Gary Edmonds, Contributor, “Agape and Phileo Love: We Need Both”, Huffpost, 02/14/2017 11:37 am ET, Updated Feb 14, 2017)
How would we respond if Jesus asks: “Do you love me as much as you love your family? Do you love me more than your career? Do you love me enough to give me some of your time in daily prayer”? (Josh Shoemaker, “Agape and Phileo” at DiscovertheBible.wordpress.com..)
If Jesus would question us about our love for Him, would we respond as Peter did? “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Take some time today to reflect on your relationship and Jesus’s unconditional love for us and be aware and grateful for the blessings in our lives. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits” (Psalm 103:2)
Carl Middleton is a theologian/ethicist and a member of the Passionist Family.