The full version of today’s Gospel reading contains the very moving exchange between our Lord and Peter, after the resurrection: ‘When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.)’
In this account, Peter’s denial of Jesus is totally reversed and he is completely forgiven.
Also of note is the play on words in the Greek; there are two words used for ‘love’ – agape and philia. Our Lord uses the first, a more intense kind of loving, and Peter responds with the second. In the end, our Lord adapts Himself to Peter and uses the second. However, it is clear that in the end, Peter showed true ‘agape’ for his Lord, by stretching out his hands and being carried to where he did not wish to go – to the cross, in Rome, where he would be crucified upside down.
May we ourselves show true ‘agape’ for our Lord, wherever it may take us. May God bless you this day.