Do you love me?
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
It all comes down to love. Sometimes I think it is the case too many people really think of religion first and foremost as a collection of rules. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. But as Jesus reminds Peter in today’s gospel, love is primary. Actions arise out of love.
There are many things to consider in this gospel passage. The three times that Peter is asked, “Do you love me?” mirror the three times he denied knowing Jesus. But I think more than this, the questions asked of Peter are designed to prepare him for his ministry.
In whatever way we choose to follow Jesus, we must first consider the depth of the relationship we have with Jesus. Why? Because it is most likely there will be times when our relationship with Jesus will cause us to do difficult and challenging things.
For anyone who is in a loving human relationship, it is clear that they rarely begin with an agreement to the rules of the relationship. Rather, they start with getting to know each other. They move to increased affection, and then to friendship.
That said, every significant relationship has rules. If I am going to be a true friend, I will not treat my friend badly. I will be honest. I will consider their feelings. And so forth. But the friendship, the marriage, the relationship with relatives does not begin with rules. Rather, the rules follow from the loving relationship.
And so it is in faith as well. So pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to deepen your love for God, so you may live in accord with God in this loving relationship.
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