DAY EIGHT: NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: “Peter, do you love me more than these? Feed my sheep.”
John 21: 15 – 19
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do? He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’”
To love the Lord more than every other person does is to love the Lord with everything within us; that is, with all that we are and have. This question and encounter is about how much God loves us than how much we can claim to love God. In this scene, Jesus questions a man, his friend that promised to give his life for him and stay by him even if everyone else should desert him. This friend of his, Peter, denied him three times and abandoned him when he needed him the most. It is to the same man that Jesus posed this question: “Do you love me more than these others do?”.
The beauty of this scene is in the response of Jesus. Jesus asked him to feed his lamb. Jesus placed in his hands, in the hands of a friend that denied him, his precious treasure, the Church, his lambs. This is forgiveness beyond measure. Jesus placed enormous trust on Peter as if he never denied him. He gave Peter another chance. We often say words like, “I have forgiven them but I will never trust them again.” This is not forgiveness. Jesus shows us what forgiveness is. He entrusted in the hands of the friend he had forgiven his most precious treasure. Can we do the same? Can we trust that much? Can we give ourselves a second chance after a betrayal, a fall or a disappointment? Can I truly forgive my brothers or my sisters or my friends as Jesus forgave Peter?
This is the reason why we need the Holy Spirit to direct us and to sometimes pull us towards forgiveness and mercy even if we want to stay and walk along the corridor of revenge and un-forgiveness. May the Spirit of Jesus come and live in us. Come O Holy Spirit Come!