YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: DO YOU LOVE ME?
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
HOMILY: (Jn. 21:1-19) Third Sunday of Easter
In today’s Gospel, the Third Sunday of Easter, Peter was asked by the risen Jesus if Peter loves Him, not once but thrice. We go back during the time when Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Peter followed him. Thrice Peter was asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. Thrice, Peter denied Jesus. In the first reading, it was Peter’s turn to face the Sanhedrin, after the death of Jesus. Peter was courageous. They were told to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. Yet he defied them and, in fact, proudly professed his faith. What made the change? The latter part of the Gospel today says how.
The context were; Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared before the apostles, and Jesus was preparing to go back to His Father and was going to entrust the apostles (the Christian community which later becomes the Church) to Peter. Thus, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”, three times! Peter responded in the positive with the third answer accompanied with a little guilt but with more love, “…you know what is in my heart.” In a way, Peter was saying that he may have denied Him thrice before but it will never happen again now that I know you are the Messiah, the risen Lord!” The belief that Jesus had risen from the dead changed the apostles.
Notice too that after every question, it was followed by a command to tend and feed the sheep. Jesus was not asking Peter to take care of some sheep He owns but His people, the people of God. It follows from the exchange that in order for Peter, or any Christian leader and follower to care for their neighbor, his/her love for Jesus must be established. In other words, you can only serve Jesus well if you love Him. When asked, it is easy to answer “I love you.” In fact, it has become a common expression and seemingly devoid of its essential meaning. The love Jesus was asking here is the kind of love He gave, i.e. entailing giving up even one’s life for the beloved. On the night before Jesus died He expressed His regard to the apostles as friends. And for Him, a friend is willing to give life for the sake of the friend. It is also the love of parents to their children when they leave to work in other countries. They are willing to sacrifice just to earn a good living for their children. It is also the same love when a wife or a husband decides to stay married in spite of the suffering and difficulties of married life. It is what makes a hero offer his life for the sake of his country. Our hero, Francisco Balagtas put it perfectly;
“O PAG-IBIG NA MAKAPANGYARIHAN PAG IKAW ANG NASOK SA PUSO NINO MAN HAHAMAKIN ANG LAHAT, MAKAMIT KA LAMANG.”
Jesus is asking us, “Do you love me?” Is it a love that is willing to give everything, life included? A good measure of that is, if, for example, our country come to have a president who will persecute Christians, will you continue to profess your love and faith in Jesus? Will you die for the faith and for the Lord? It will be the ultimate test. If you can answer “yes” to it, then you really love the Lord. Then you can serve Him with perfect commitment. Let the lyrics of a song in Godspell be our daily prayer;
“Day by day,
Oh dear Lord, three things I pray;
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.”