The last two weekdays of the Easter Season will feature passages from the final chapter of St. John’s Gospel, chapter twenty-one. In it we hear Jesus ask Peter three times whether Peter loves him. There is nothing subtle about the question. Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times in chapter eighteen. Chapter twenty-one is sometimes called the “restoration of St. Peter” by some Scripture scholars.
St. John’s Gospel, unlike the synoptic Gospels, does not include the story of Peter’s profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi. Instead we hear this story of the three-fold profession of his love for Jesus, each profession followed by an admonition to care for and feed Jesus’ sheep. Even more interesting is the fact that Jesus follows these questions and answers with the familiar phrase, “Follow me.”
Each of us, like Peter, has chosen to follow the Lord. Each of us has also faltered in keeping that promise. This episode at the end of the Gospel is intended to give hope to those who have faltered in their choice to follow Jesus. Like Peter, we need to be constantly reminded of the choice we have made. We also must make a conscious decision each day to continue in our chosen path of following Jesus. Just as Jesus forgives Peter for his denial, we too are forgiven if we but profess our love for Jesus and our sorrow for our sins.
The Eucharist is the sacrament of reconciliation that binds us to Jesus. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we are reminded that we have been forgiven by the death and resurrection of the Lord. As we draw near to the end of the Easter Season, we are once again reminded of what it is we are celebrating when we gather around the table of the Lord.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator