Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Today, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?”  After each of Peter’s responses, Jesus tells him to care for the flock.  “Feed my lambs.”  “Tend my sheep.”  “Feed my sheep.”

Peter, of course, publicly denied Jesus three times.  Yet, Peter did not fall into despair.  He cried over his failure.  But he did not lose hope in Christ’s love for him.  He did not think that he was incapable of being redeemed.  This was a key difference, perhaps the key difference, between Peter and Judas.

There is no unforgiveable sin.  There is only the sin for which forgiveness is never sought.

Peter is forgiven for his sin against our Lord.

God sometimes pricks our conscience to remind us of our need for him.  Here Jesus addresses Peter as Simon rather than as Peter.  He thus reminds Peter of his position before meeting Jesus.  This also indicates how Peter’s failure has damaged his relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus’ threefold question of Peter would clearly remind Peter of his threefold denial of Jesus.  But as Peter professes his love for Jesus, Jesus gives Peter his mission to care for the sheep.  Jesus is restoring Peter to right relationship with God but also entrusting him with the responsibility of tending the sheep.

God always forgives when we humbly ask for forgiveness.  And sometimes we need to be reminded of how dependent on God we really are.  By ourselves, we are capable of so little.  But God works through us.  He has a plan for each one of us.  If we answer our call and submit ourselves to God’s will, God can do great things with our very fragile selves.  Peter was impetuous and sometimes fearful.  But God led him to greatness.  We are called to greatness, perhaps not in a public way.  But we are called to heroic virtue in our own lives.  To sainthood in the unique way that God has planned.

Are we aware of our dependence on God?  Are we cognizant of our own sinfulness?  Are we willing to ask forgiveness on a regular basis for our failures?  Can we abandon ourselves to God and allow God to work through us?