HOMILY for Fri 7 of Easter
It’s often said that Jesus asks St Peter three times if he loves him in order to allow him to overturn his triple denial of Christ. And Peter, because he loves the Lord, is thus entrusted with the care of Christ’s beloved flock, the Church. But there is so much more to this passage. For in fact, Peter is being invited on a journey, to follow Christ so that he will learn to love as much as Jesus does to the point of dying for his flock.
The Greek text of this Gospel makes this more evident, I think. Because the first two times, Jesus asks: “agapas me”. Agape in the New Testament is an unconditional pure love, the kind of unselfish sacrificial love that God has for us, the kind of love that goes to the Cross for the sake of sinners, and forgives those who deny and betray him. And Peter, in his three replies says: “philo se”. This is not quite the same pure love that Jesus has and that he asks of Peter, but the love of friendship. Now, friendship is the “most fully human of all loves”, a beautiful and precious love indeed, but it isn’t quite the supernatural divine kind of love that agape, charity, is. But it seems, this is all that Peter can give at the moment, his very best and fullest human love.