Study: Think back on a time when you made a big mistake and instead of harshness you encountered mercy.
Pray: Ask the Lord to help you love – especially people you find challenging. Pray for strength and grace to love.
Serve: Is there someone in your life that would benefit from an act of kindness, mercy, or love? Who is in your life right now that the Lord is leading you to love?
When you think of the backdrop of today’s Gospel reading, you might consider what Peter was thinking about. He had betrayed Jesus. Three times. He was told he would, he boasted he would die for the Lord, and when it came to the test he failed – utterly.
Then beyond all hope and wonder Jesus stands before Peter in resurrection glory. He’s alive! Death and sin have been conquered once for all, and we have hope in eternal life.
What would Peter say to Jesus?
Was he afraid that the Lord would be upset or disappointed? Was he worried that his friend and Lord would reject him or cast him aside? Was he ashamed, or perhaps overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and inadequacy?
Yet Jesus does not respond in a negative way at all. Three times he asks one little question: Do you love me? Three times Peter will answer yes, and in the end he will admit that Jesus knows him completely – including all his failings and limitations. The point is simple. Jesus met Peter in his weakness and invited him to live a life of love.
This encounter between Jesus and Peter should give us all hope. We all make mistakes: we’ve failed, messed up, caused harm and disappointment. Yet when we turn back to the Lord we discover the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus who asks us the same simple question: Do you love me?
What will be our answer? We have the opportunity to let go of our past sins and return once again to the Lord who loves us and invites us to love in return. Rather than be shackled to sin, fear, and death – we may embrace new life with joy and hope. Jesus Christ comes with power to free us with his healing grace.
Like Peter, we stand before the Lord in our weakness. Like Peter, we will all be asked the same question. May our answer be YES to the Lord’s love.