May 1, 2022
What would it be like if the Lord fixed His gaze on you and asked you this question? Do you really love Jesus?
- The third question of “do you love Me” was not to make Peter uncomfortable, but to help Peter to heal from his triple denial of Jesus.
- We can be surprised when we find out how weak and sinful we can be, but Jesus isn’t surprised and still love us.
- John Mary refers to the earthen vessels which holds treasures as representing our humanity, woundedness and our human misery since original sin.
- The “treasures” in the earthen vessels were given to us at Baptism when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in our souls.
- The dwelling of the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying grace means that our love for God is not just a human act, but the action of the Holy Spirit within us.
- We can love God with a divine love because that’s the love coming from the Holy Spirit. That is the gift of sanctifying grace from the Holy Spirit.
By the gift of sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, which we received at Baptism, God is dwelling in us. And so, we can love God with a divine love, because that’s the love coming from the Holy Spirit.
The question Jesus asked Peter and is asking us “Do you love Me,” is not to make us feel uncomfortable, but it’s to help us discover the love that God has placed in our hearts, the treasure that God has given us.
“Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” What if right now, you could see Jesus and He was looking at you, staring at you. And He asked you, He spoke your name and said, “Do you love Me?” Think of that because it’s a personal question. It’s not a question that we respond as a group. Yeah, Lord, we all love You. It’s quite a personal question. And think, if I’m asking you that question, “do you love me.” One thing that question is a sign of, is how important you are to Him. You know, a CEO of a company doesn’t necessarily ask, “do you love me,” to his workers, he just wants to make sure that they do a good job. But for Jesus, your love is important to Him. You’re not a face in the crowd. For Him, your love is important, and no one can give Him your response. And so, what would it be like to have Jesus asking that question to you? I don’t know what St. Peter experienced with these three questions but this is what comes to my mind when I think of this triple question. The first time, do you love me? Yes, Lord, You know, I love You. And now let’s talk about something else. Let’s change the subject, that makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Stop looking at me that way and let’s talk about something else. But then He asked it again, after you’ve already responded, “do you love Me?” And then maybe we begin to feel more uncomfortable. Like St. Peter was aware, very aware of the times when he had failed, when he hadn’t been faithful to Jesus when he had been weak. And so, we, especially under the gaze of the Lord, who sees into all our life, into all our soul, we can realize all the times in our life we’ve been lukewarm and we’ve been indifferent. And we’ve had a lot of persons or a lot of things that were ahead of Him, when we weren’t faithful, when we were weak, when we were sinful. And so that question makes us aware of all the times in which we weren’t faithful to His love. And then Jesus asked Peter a third time, as if two wasn’t bad enough, He’s insisting, you can imagine how Peter even says, how distressed Peter is that He’s saying this? Peter is extremely sensitive at this point, because he’s very aware, well, just a couple of weeks before, how weak he was when Jesus most needed him, you know, I’ll be there, I want to be there for you. Well, he wasn’t there for Jesus. And so, here’s Peter now feeling very distressed that the Lord is still looking at him. Well, why don’t you ask somebody else? Let’s talk about something else. Now the Lord is still looking at him? And He says, a third time, “do you love me?” Simon, do you love me? But He’s not saying this to make Peter uncomfortable, He’s saying this to heal Peter, to help Peter to heal from his triple denial of Jesus. And to help Peter realize that there’s something deeper in him that even though in that terrible moment of Gethsemane, the terrible darkness in which the apostles were so attacked by the evil spirit and became afraid and fled, that even in spite of that, Jesus is revealing to Peter, that he really does love Jesus. Deeper down than his weakness, there is an abiding love in Peter for Jesus, and Jesus even so these questions are not to make Peter uncomfortable, they’re actually a confirmation. Jesus goes on to confirm Peter, and his role. And so, Peter was very surprised and hurt to see how weak he was. But Jesus wasn’t surprised at all. Jesus knew Peter, he knew what Peter was going to do. And Jesus’ love and Jesus’ call of Peter haven’t changed. We can be surprised when we find out how weak and sinful we can be, but Jesus isn’t surprised, and it doesn’t change His love. And this triple question that Jesus asked Peter makes me think of words that St. Paul uses when he speaks of the treasures that God has given us. He says, “we hold these treasures in earthen vessels,” earthen vessels. So, what’s an earthen vessel? Earthen, it sounds kind of nice, but it’s actually just clay and clay is from mud, it’s from dirt. And that’s representing our humanity, which God formed us from the earth, from the dirt, from the mud. And it represents all our woundedness and our human misery, since original sin and with all the other sins. And so, I think of these three questions like those this earthen vessel, maybe it has a nice glaze on it. A nice glaze, with nice colors, a nice design. So that’s kind of the superficial part, the way the appearance that we try to give for others. But the glaze is not very thick, right? It’s just a thin layer. And then there’s the mud, the earthen vessel, and that’s all our humanity with all its weakness, with all its capacity for good, but also sinfulness and all the ways that because of the sins of others and our own sins, there’s so much junk in there, so much dirt. And that’s this second level which as we begin to follow Jesus, like He did for St. Peter, He makes us aware of both how challenging is His call, and also, we become aware of how far we are from it, how sinful we are, how far we are from being able to respond. And as his life begins to intensify, we can feel it’s impossible, even after, because it’s not enough for me to know what to do. And even to try to do the good, even knowing and try and how often I fall short. I fail. So that’s the second layer, so that’s the earth and vessel that St. Paul says, “in this earthen vessel, God has placed a treasure.” And so that’s the contrast between the Earth and vessel, which is our poor, weak humanity, and the treasure, the divine treasure that God has placed. Do you remember when God placed that treasure in you? Do you remember when it first happened? A long time ago. It was on a day, at the moment of your Baptism. At your Baptism, remember that? Remember your Baptism? Most of us don’t remember. At our Baptism, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in your soul, in the depths of your soul. And the Scripture calls the heart and with His presence, He brought sanctifying grace, the gift of God which sanctifies you. St. Paul says, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.” So, he’s saying the Holy Spirit has been given us at Baptism. Of course, mortal sin is what? It’s an act in which we reject the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. And that’s why we have this special Sacrament of Reconciliation, to be freed of mortal sin, and once again, have this presence of the Holy Spirit. And what does St. Paul say, what is the Holy Spirit in the sanctifying grace do? He says, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts,” so we have in us, so that the thing is, as I said, when we begin, we start to follow the Lord, we become as we go along, and as we become more aware of who He is, and we become more aware also of how far we’ve fallen, as St. Peter did, realizing how weak he had been. But that’s not the deepest part. There’s something much deeper and much more important, which is this treasure, of the divine mystery, of the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His sanctifying grace. So, what does that mean? So that means that our love for God is not just a human act that we will to do, and sometimes, a lot of time, we don’t will to do. It’s a grace, that above all of the Holy Spirit. So that’s what St. Paul says, that God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, has been given us. So loving God is not just something that we try to do by ourselves. It’s above all, the action of the Holy Spirit in us. Of course, we’re free also to cooperate, more or less, but it doesn’t all depend on us. It depends above all, on the Holy Spirit. Again, we can accept to cooperate with His presence, or we can ignore His presence. But it’s His presence, which is what is most capable of loving within us. And so even that, when we become aware of our sinfulness, we don’t have to say, well, then it’s impossible for me to love God. For what does Jesus say in the Gospel, “for man it’s impossible, but not for God, for God, all things are possible.” you’re going to say, well, that’s great, but I’m not God, I’m man. That’s true. But by the gift of sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, God is dwelling in you. And so, you can love God with a divine love, because that’s the love coming from the Holy Spirit. So say, a good friend came to visit you, and you received a friend in your house. And it was a surprise, you’re glad to see them, you show them to your room. And then you close the door, and you completely forgot about them for a whole day, or for a week, or for years. That’s what can happen. We can receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, but completely forget about Him. And so, if we’re not in mortal sin, He is still there, but he’s not able to have too much impact on our life, because our cooperation with Him is very limited. But if on the contrary, we realize who this friend is, and we feel so honored and glad that He’s there that we spend a lot of time talking with Him and asking for His help, and in getting His guidance, then He can help us out a lot more. And when we come to a problem, we can say, “I don’t know how to handle this, can You help me?” And so, then the Holy Spirit can act much more in us, and His presence can grow and strengthen us. And so, when Jesus asked this question, this third question for me, it’s like the opportunity to go deeper beyond our sinfulness into this dwelling of sanctifying grace, the sanctifying grace, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit whose given us, divine love. And so, we truly can say, “Yes, Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you beyond my feelings, beyond my weakness. You know that by Your gift of grace, and my desire to respond to your grace, I do love You.” And so, this question of Jesus is not to make us feel uncomfortable, but it’s to help us discover the love that God has placed in our hearts, the treasure that God has given us. And so, as we celebrate this Mass, we can hear again that question, “do you love Me,” and with our Blessed Mother, and by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you. It’s a grace, it was a grace given to St. Peter to realize his own sinfulness and it’s a grace when God makes us realize our sinfulness. And aware of that grace, when we say that before Holy Communion, “Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you.” We’re aware of that grace. But we’re also with an act of faith. And it is an act of faith, because we’re not always aware of this divine presence in us, but by an act of faith, trusting in His grace, trusting in the grace that was transmitted, first of all, in Baptism, we can say, “Yes, Lord, you know, all things, you know that I love You.” And so Holy Communion is that opportunity, where Jesus is coming to us in this sacrament, and anxious for your love, like for Peter, who was such a rough and tumble fisherman, but with a good heart. So, for each one of us, with all the differences we have, Jesus is coming in Holy Communion to you personally, and anxious for your response, for your commitment to His love. And so today, with St. Peter, in the Holy Spirit, you have the opportunity in Holy Communion to say, “Lord, you know, all things, you know that I love You.” Amen.