He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the 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.” John 21:17

Today’s Gospel is a moving story of the encounter which took place between Jesus and Peter as our Lord made a second appearance to his disciples.

Before his crucifixion, Jesus was  ‘betrayed’ by Peter who denied him three times when he sat in the courtyard at our Lord’s  trial. In many and varied ways we deny Christ in our daily lives and we can all identify with Peter’s words; “I know not the man.” Whenever we sin or fall short of God’s glory we say to the community “I know not the man.”  There is a bit of Peter in all of us.  In today’s Gospel Peter is restored; it is a story of rehabilitation; Peter’s broken heart is mended.

Within the context of the Easter  story of new life and optimism, today’s Gospel reading has a message of hope and encouragement for all of us , “God does not give up on us.” God did not give up on Peter when he betrayed Christ.

The moving encounter which ends with Jesus’ words to Peter ‘feed my sheep’ is a moment of transformation and recommissioning   of Peter for his work of discipleship. I would like to suggest that we see this meeting as healing, a healing which restored Peter to wholeness.  The hurt of the past, the painful memories of denial, the lingering thoughts of betrayal and the embarrassment associated with being untruthful, are healed. Before we can be transformed our lives need to be healed of past moral injuries. Without healing there can be no  transformation.

The meeting of Jesus and Peter is a wonderful story of God’s love for for sinners. It informs us that God does not keep in mind our past inflicities. It resonates with Paul’s lofty ideas of love,  “love does not keep a record of wrong.” Anyone who comes to Jesus can do so with the confidence that he does not throw our past in our faces. All he does as we  come to him is to ask two questions: “Do you love me” and “What are you going to do about it?”

We can see today’s Gospel as making a salient point which we tend to so often forget: “everyone deserves a second chance.” Christ gave Peter a second chance to prove his love. He also gave the disciples  a chance to catch more fish.

When we fail in our personal lives we must give ourselves a second chance. When others fail we must also them a second chance. We must strive to create a society that understands the importance of giving people a second chance. We live in a society that is very judgmental and cruel to persons who  ‘foul’ up. The church is also guilty of refusing to give people a seond opprtunity. We as indiviviuals are also guilty of failing to give people another opportunity to make a change in their lives. So very often  as a community, a church and individuals we destroy the lives of people by consigning them to a state of oblivion for their wrong doings.

Following the example of Jesus we must never use the past against persons who desire to change their lives and make a new start. While reprimanding them in a spirit of love so as to bring about healing, it must be done  to encourage and help them prove their worth. Easter Christians forgive.  Easter Christians help people to change. We bring people to meet Christ so that they can become “a new creation.”

Life is all about moving on and grasping present opportunities. Peter grasped the moment and reaffirmed his love for God; "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." The second chance must not be squandered; it must be used positively and for some good.

The meeting between Jesus and Peter says to all of us do not live in the past, live in the present. We must not allow past failures to prevent us from reestablishing  loving relationships with God and our neighbours. We must not allow past pains and hurts to stop us from reaching out to families and friends who have offended us in word or deed. We must not allow  past personal failures to stop us from living a fulfilled life, always live in the present. The past can only haunt us if we allow it  to haunt us.

Easter invites people to repent of of their  sins and accept God’s gift of forgiveness. We must emulate the life of Peter who grasped a second opportunity to express his love for God and went on to become a great apostle who brought many persons to find and experience the new life of the risen Christ.

It I were to put today’s Gospel in a nutsell it would be this: “ every one deserves a second chance.”


Wayne E. Isaacs

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