Before the end of the Easter Season, the lectionary offered this Resurrection Gospel. Oh, let's not ignore it, but run to it and its meaning for our living. How the world needs to heed it!
After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you," Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered 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 distressed that he had said to him a 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. Amen, amen I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this he said to him, "Follow me." (John 21:15-19)
After their satisfying morning breakfast, Jesus got down to business, setting out to repair the damage done by Peter's denial of even knowing him the night of Jesus' arrest. Jesus asked about Peter's love three times to drive home the point gently: Peter had denied Jesus as many times. But rather than give a speech, Jesus gave Peter new tasks. In short: Take care of the others.
But let us get right to the heart of it: Jesus asks for love. He asks for love still. It is to this country's great shame that we refused love to the Natives who lived here so long before Europe's ships arrived and refused love again to the enslaved brought here by force from Africa. "Do you love me" is the universal and perennial question. It is bigger than human life.
The tiny uterine voice asks, Do you love me?
Civilians beneath the drone and rocket attacks ask, Do you love me?
The war-damaged ask, Do you love me?
The poorly parented teen asks, Do you love me?
In a dry marriage someone asks, Do you love me?
In every classroom at least one child asks, Do you love me?
The homosexual asks, Do you love me?
Priests ask their bishops, Do you love me?
Muslims and Christians ask their clerics, Do you love me?
Around the world the children ask the adults, Do you love me?
The elderly left behind ask, Do you love me?
The underpaid ask, Do you love me?
The mentally and physically challenged ask, Do you love me?
Border-crossing and shoreline immigrants ask, Do you love me?
The forests, the mountains, the oceans - indeed the planet asks, Do you love me?