Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter


"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." 



Any fool can challenge those who say they love God, "Do your actions prove it?" 
Not many Christians can reply with assurance, "Yes, I do." 
We make our declarations of love often enough, especially with the Church during our prayers. Wrapped in the warm blanket of the assembly, it's not hard to say what everyone else is saying. Alone among friends or family, it might not be so easy. Our readiness to do so probably measures how far we trust these intimate companions. Caught up in an alien or hostile environment, we might be forgiven for remaining silent. 
But, all reservations aside, we must make that declaration periodically, in the community and privately, within the sanctuary of our hearts. 
The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins said it as well as anyone,
O Deus, Ego Amo TeO God, I love thee, I love thee —
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,┬░
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu so much in love with me?
Not for heaven's sake; not to be
Out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then? —
For being my king and God. Amen.
Several years ago, as the director of a retreat house I asked my staff to make their love of God transparent before our guests, especially during their presentations and prayers. Some of us found that very hard to do. The culture resists the impulse, rationalizing that, "God is totally self-sufficient and doesn't need our love. We should save our love for one another. The phrase, 'Love of God' is all about how God loves me -- unconditionally -- and not about my love for God." It took a while for us to come to some agreement. 
In today's Gospel, Jesus three times challenged Peter, "Do you love me?" If he could not answer in the affirmative, he could not be appointed as shepherd to "Tend my sheep." How he will demonstrate his love in other ways, with actions, will come later. There's ample time for that. But in the meanwhile, each of us must say it very clearly, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.