“Simon, Do You Love Me?”

Posted on April 26, 2022 by Published by

Third Sunday of Easter-Year C

When Jesus asks Simon Peter three times “Do you love Me?”, in English it would appear that Simon Peter gives the same response three times “You know, Lord, that I love you.” In the original Gospel text in Greek, however, Jesus used the Greek word agape for love. Agape means God’s unselfish, unconditional love toward man. Agape is spontaneous love—divine love. When responding to Jesus, Simon Peter, used the word phileo for love. Phileo is human love or the love that that we know as friendship.

Translated more accurately, the dialog between Jesus and Simon Peter would look like this “Do you love me with agape love, Peter?” “Lord you know that I love you with the love that is friendship.” And again Jesus asks “Peter do you love me with divine love that is unselfish?” and Peter responds “Lord you know that I love you with human love, which is limited.” The third time, however, something changes. Jesus asks Peter “Peter, do you love me with human love?” And Peter confirms, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you only with human love.” But still, in response to this, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs.”

Peter had denied Jesus three times. Through this series of three questions, Peter affirms Christ—albeit imperfectly—three times. Now we see that Jesus chose Peter because Jesus knew what He could do through such a weak, human creature: He could enable people to be not only the first pope, but a great martyr and witness to the faith.

At the end of the Gospel, Jesus said “Follow me.” To follow Jesus means to imitate him. This means that we must love as He loves. But, as we know and as we see through St. Peter’s responses, we are not capable of loving as God loves. But this is not a problem for God because Christ Himself wants to live in us and wants to love others through us. Jesus looks for weak souls, but open souls and hearts into which He can pour out His infinite and boundless love.

Yours in Christ,
Father Arthur

Readings for the Third Sunday of Easter: Lectionary 48

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