BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
3rd Sunday of Easter | May 5, 2019
See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons
Who loves you?
It is a question that often produces a rather similar list.
My mom. My dad.
My son. My daughter.
My best friend.
My brother My sister.
My girlfriend. My boyfriend.
These are the ones that we say we love.
The ones we choose to spend our time with.
The ones we strive to do the little things for.
Now imagine one of them walked up to us and said, “Do you love me?”
At first, we would smile and say of course I love you.
But then they repeat the question, and suddenly, it gets a little more awkward.
Why are they doubting the first answer that we shared?
We repeat our answer, a little more forcefully. “Of course I love you.”
But then the question comes again, “Do you love me?”
And now, we’re upset.
Because the reality is, we’ve all failed to love. And these repeated questions are reminding us of those failures.
The times we couldn’t say the words. Because we were afraid. Or thought it wasn’t cool. Or got busy. Or didn’t have time.
The times we didn’t share because we allowed all of the other demands of our life to pull us apart. Or because we chose someone else. Or because we were angry or hurt.
The things we didn’t do because we didn’t want to. It seemed a burden. We were stretched too thin. We were worried too much about ourselves.
Maybe that is why it is so easy to understand Peter’s discomfort in this scene.
Because we know his failure to love.
It has been captured in Scripture and proclaimed every Palm Sunday for generations.
His grand betrayal. His failure to love his friend, his brother, as he should have.
And each time he tells Christ that he loves him, we hear echoes of a previous conversation in which he claimed to not even know the man.
But Peter’s discomfort is not the reason that this story has been preserved through the ages.
On the contrary, Christ is using this exchange to teach his disciples, including Peter what it means to walk this path.
That these people we claim to love — the ones we profess to be the most important people in our lives — we cannot take them for granted. We need to work to ensure that the flame of love is kept burning, despite all of the obstacles in our path.
We need to take the time to say what needs to be said.
I’m sorry. I’m so grateful. I love you.
We need to take the time to be with the ones we love. Enjoying their presence. Treasuring the moments. Without worrying about the next one to come or where else we could be.
We need to be willing to put in the work that comes with nourishing love.
And then, filled with that love. We need to go forth and become an instrument bearing that love into the world.
Finding the lost sheep wherever they may be found.
Letting them experience the love that we have known.
This is our great commission my friends. To love as we have been loved.
Today. Tomorrow. Forever and ever. Amen
May God be Praised.
Artwork by Maximino Cerezo Barredo via source