Simon, son of John, do you love me?
Words that can be startling, even though we have heard them over and over. Their familiarity rings a question that most people forget as they mature in life. Usually, it isn’t the necessary response some are looking for but an assurance that our spouse, child, close friend, and advocate whom our trust is with that we need to hear again and again.
Jesus’ need to hear a positive reply from Peter became a test that Peter was sorry for his rejection of Jesus as he was on the road named Via Dolorosa, the final journey to complete the Passion. A trusted disciple, the future leader of the Church Jesus was building, a trusted friend that would have to gather all the other followers if God’s plan would even materialize.
A man and a woman begin their matrimonial journey exchanging vows and guaranteeing trust in each other; placing the future of life on their heartfelt trust in God’s promise to be with them forever. Our Church relied on Peter’s willingness to answer the question; “Yes. Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, Feed my lambs.” To make certain that after denying knowing Jesus three times the Lord wanted Peter to positively answer with Yes Lord you know I love you!
It is sad that when a break-away incident occurs between a husband and wife the same dialogue fails to take place with too many couples. What happened to the trust sworn to each other on the altar of promise to love and obey (in a loving sense of obeying) and in sickness and health, prosperity and poverty, till death do us part, flies away like the dust in a storm?
Paul gave us the perfect antidote of love that couples, co-workers, families, and friends should adhere to when collapse in relationships arise; “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13: 4 - 7).
“So faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13: 13).
Do we as humans fail almost daily? Are we slow to act out love when most times it is the only essential remedy that lasts? God forgives us at the drop of a hat; do we emulate the forgiveness we find with God, or do we allow the anger to remain and over time see it get buried deep within the recesses of our bodies until it burns a hole in the soul and explodes in revenge and getting even with the other person?
There aren’t very many fires that erupt within the human psyche that can not be extinguished with a spray of kindness and forgiveness! If Jesus would not have tested Peter and got an affirmative response to his weakness, we would not be reading this or any other words of understanding the plan God ordained at the very beginning of time.
We understand that some problems such as abuse and other sadistic happenings occur and those must be dealt with in a professional manner. But the systematically everyday occurrences can and must be dealt with in a mature and loving manner.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Do you Love me?