‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Asked Jesus. ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’
In the homilies I delivered from Palm Sunday I have invited people to see if they could recognise themselves in the characters of Holy Week. On Good Friday I asked you to see yourself as St Peter as he stands in court of the chief priest and denies Jesus. This morning I invited the faithful at St John’s church to identify themselves with St Mary Magdalene as she rejoices in the risen Lord after Jesus calls her by name.
Tonight I invite you to consider Peter once again as he too is called by name by the Lord. On Good Friday he denied Jesus three times, but after the resurrection he is invited to make reparation. Earlier Peter is questioned by enemies, now he is questioned by Jesus in love. Earlier he denies, now he confesses. Earlier his love for Jesus is smothered by fear, now the same unquenchable love drives away fear.
As we identify ourselves with Peter we see that even though we all have let our love for the Lord grow cold – at some point or another – Jesus is always there ready to revive that love with his risen presence among us.
But the beauty of this encounter between Peter and Jesus, between us and Jesus, doesn’t end here. Jesus says to Peter, and to us as we confess our love for him, ‘Tend my sheep.’
As Jesus restores and increases our love for him, He commands us to show that love through a life of service for his people, the Church. So we see that the point of ministry, and the whole point of the Christian life, is love; without love we needn’t be Christians, or in my case, be a priest.
In a few moments we will welcome in our midst the risen Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. His presence among us in the Eucharist is a calm, unassuming, and gentle presence, which is often overlooked, mocked, and denied - especially in our Church. However, this is also the presence of the risen Jesus who continually addresses each of us by name asking, Do you love me?
May the Lord open our eyes of faith to behold his presence with us in the Sacrament. May He gently let us hear his voice, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’