[Editor’s Note: No one who knows Wendy Gittings would be the least bit surprised to learn of her successes as the Campus Minister at St. Nicholas Elementary School in Los Altos Hills, California. One particular bright spot has been her Friday reflections on the Sunday readings, which she offers in order to help the kids prepare better for the Sunday liturgy. After much arm-twisting, she has agreed to give them wider distribution here. –MAG]
Third Sunday in Easter Yr C John 21:1-19 for Sunday, April 22. (excerpted for children)
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him,“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Reflection for St. Nicholas Elementary Students
Thinking about this gospel reminded me of a very good friend of mine. Not too long ago, my friend called to thank me for something. Just before hanging up she said “I love you”. Rather than saying “I love you, too”, I subconsciously said “I know”.
It sounds like a strange response and she laughed a bit but I did know that my friend loved me. I knew that she loved me not because she told me but because over and over again, with thoughtfulness, encouragement and kindness, she had shown me.
Now Peter tells Jesus three times that he loves him and he really wants Jesus to say “I know”. Yet with each “Yes” from Peter, there is a new challenge from the Lord. Jesus is not really questioning Peter’s love for Him. He is challenging Peter to love Him by caring for his lambs and his sheep, for those who belong to Him.
Every day we are challenged to love the Lord by taking good care of one another. Every day in the struggles of a friend, the frustration of a child, the hurt of a family member, the anxiety of a colleague, the worries of a neighbor, Jesus continues to ask US as he asked Peter, “Do you love me?”
Our hope and our prayer is that at the end of each day, we will have seen the face of Jesus and shown Him our love. And when we say goodnight and tell Him that we love him, He’ll be able to say “I know”.