In his final Resurrection appearance in the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, 3 times, do you love me? This question was very personal. He did not ask Peter whether the world, or Israel, or the disciples as a whole loved Him. He didn’t ask Peter about someone else. He simply asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
Today each one of us must ask the question: “Do I love Jesus Christ?” The love that your family, friends, or church has for Him will not be reckoned to your account. One cannot love by proxy. I would ask you to search your own heart and honestly answer the question, just as Peter was asked to do.
He didn’t ask, do you love the Bishop or your Priest? Do you love Doctrine? Do you love your church? Do you love your parents? Do you love your wife, your husband, your children? Jesus could have asked Peter about many things. He could have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you made a credible profession of faith?” Peter could have answered, “I know that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus could have inquired, “ Simon, Son of Jonah, do you hold an important office in the church?” Peter would have replied, “yes Lord, you have ordained me as an apostle.” Christ might have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you had any extraordinary supernatural experiences?” Peter could have responded, “of course, I have walked on the sea, cast out devils, etc.”
But Christ did not put any of these questions to Peter. He simply asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?” He asked this particular question because real love for Jesus Christ comes with responsibility of reciprocating the love He shows to us. A hypocrite may have a good profession of faith, have been baptized, hold a church office, and a myriad of other external privileges but there is more that has to be done. Some people put their love in their work, their family, their hobbies, and put Jesus on hold and do not love Him as the Lord.
I chose Saint Peter to represent a Saint that throughout my life, whether I realized it then or not, could relate to my relationship with Christ. Before I began coming to church or learning more about our faith, I always considered myself to be a decent person, I cared for others, believed in God even though I didn’t know much about Him and tried to make a conscious effort to make sure I did my part to make this world a better place, but did I really love Christ? Fast forward, to when I started coming to St. George’s and to teach Sunday school. The more I learned, the closer I felt to God. I feel that I am maturing into a sheep and I’m trying to do even more volunteering, trying to bring joy etc. but I have to ask myself, do I really love Jesus? Just like Simon, Peter, I want to say, “Yes, I love you Lord!” I feel the love of God in my life and I love you back so much but I know that I don’t always put God first. I get caught up in my own life sometimes and have to be reminded of this reading to ground me again. This is probably not only true for me, and I pray that after today you will all be reminded to come back to this reading and get grounded when needed. If you need any help, whether a lamb or a sheep, we are all in this together and I encourage to ask to be fed or tended to if needed.