In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter this question: Do you love me more than these? Have you asked yourself that question? Do you love Him more than these?
“These” could be anything in your life that takes up more space in your mind and heart than Jesus: possessions, hobbies, shopping, traveling, your job, your home, politics, social media, TV shows, and even people like family and friends. Inventory how you spend your time and it will quickly become clear what “these” are in your life.
Loving “these” more than God happens to all of us because it’s hard to love an invisible God more than the visible gifts He gives us, but it’s what God asks of us.
Jesus wants to be “all” in your life, and the question He asks Peter proves that. He wants to be the anchor, the best friend, the guide, and the source of your happiness and joy. Are you giving Him that space? Can you answer “yes” as Peter did?
But that’s not all. I find it interesting that after Peter answers “yes” three times to this question, Jesus gives him an action to do. Feeding the lambs. Tending the sheep. He sends Peter out to tend, feed, and nurture others in direct response to that love.
In other words, He’s saying to Peter, if you truly love me, then care for the flock in your midst because loving God necessitates action. We all have a flock too: our family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, parish, community, and all the poor and needy in our midst.
So often when I am absorbed in my own selfish needs and desires and loving other things more than God at any point in time, I’m not doing as good of a job caring for the flock entrusted to me. I’m not seeing and responding to the flock’s needs as well. I’m not taking the time to care for them as readily and deeply as I should, which means I’m not living my Christian vocation as well as I should be.
In this Gospel, Jesus is teaching us that loving God and tending the flock are what we are called to as His followers after the Resurrection.
How well are you doing at both of those? Start with the question: Do you love me more than these?