How Do We Love?

John 21: 15-19
Acts 25: 13b-21 / Ps 103

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
(John 21:16)

How much we love our Lord Jesus
Depends on how we care for His sheep;
From our sins His grace will free us,
Trust that this promise He will keep.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21: 15-19)

Reflection

Every time Peter answered that he loved Jesus, he was told to take care of His sheep. Our Lord’s message for His leaders in this Gospel passage defines love for Him as not merely lip service or an emotional experience, but in active service of the flocks under their care. This brings to the fore a question that every servant leader of Christ should ask himself before he takes on the tasks of ministry: ‘What is my motive, or reason for serving in my community?’ If the answer is ‘For the love of God and Jesus Christ,’ then he can look forward to a Spirit-filled and fruitful service.

There are two kinds of members in any religious organization: those who are active because they love the fellowship (or the singing, or the camaraderie), and those who join because they seek Jesus and want to develop a more intimate relationship with Him. It is usually the latter who readily accept any assignment requested of them. And they are the ones who stay on through the years and become strong leaders and pillars of the organization.

Throughout the Gospel books and the epistles, we are commanded to love. As Jesus said: “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn. 13:34-36) Jesus showed His apostles how to love. In 1Cor.13:1-7, it says: Love is patient He was patient with them to the end, until they understood fully His plan of salvation. Love is kind: Jesus showed kindness to all who came to Him for help, and never discriminated even the lowliest and the most hideous (lepers). Love is respectful: Jesus showed His respect for all men, friends and sinners, rich and poor alike. He even asked forgiveness for His tormentors in Calvary. Love is humble: Jesus is our model of humility; He chose to be born poor, and mixed comfortably with the masses. He rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their pride and lack of humility. Love is forgiving: Jesus guaranteed remission and forgiveness of sins for all who repent. Repentance and forgiveness are major themes in His Gospel messages. Finally, Love is sacrifice: Again, Jesus is the perfect model of life-giving sacrifice, when He accepted death on the cross for the forgiveness of all sins. Jesus is our model of love. Let us follow Him in order to be assured of a place in heaven.

You know our hearts and minds, Lord God, and know how much we love you. Increase our knowledge of Your love, so that we may serve our brotherhood more intensely, and come to love You even more. This we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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