In the last chapter of the Gospel of John, the disciples have gone back to fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Even though Jesus has visited them twice, and they have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus, they are still not ready to go into the world with the Good News shared with them by Jesus. They have fished all night without catching anything. A man on shore calls out to them, asks them about their fishing, and tells them to cast their nets on the other side. They do, and their nets are so full of fish, they are close to breaking. They realize the man on shore is Jesus and they rush in to see him.
He has breakfast cooking for them on a fire, and has a conversation with Peter in which he asks Peter three times, “Do You Love Me?” Three times Peter says yes. Jesus responds, “Feed my lambs,” Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.”
This reading has parts that can take us in dozens of different directions. The part that struck me was the question, “Do you love me?”, and the directives to feed and tend. Did Peter love Jesus more than fishing? Did he love Jesus more than the other disciples? If so, that love will be born out in the action of looking after Jesus’ sheep.
What would each of us say if Jesus asked us that question? Do we love Jesus more than occupation, possessions or existing relationships? What would we say collectively? Do we love Jesus more than our traditions, our buildings, or our status in the community?
How can we quantify love? How can we know before we are forced to make a choice?
I don’t know for sure how I would answer these questions. I am confident that, no matter my answer, no matter my response, Jesus and God will still love me, even if I might have trouble loving myself.