Eucharistic Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter: Year C
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20); Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11 to 14; John 21:1 to 19:
“A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” “He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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.” (NRSV John 21:16-17)
Volvió a preguntarle: —Simón, hijo de Juan, ¿me amas? Pedro le contestó:—Sí, Señor, tú sabes que te quiero. Jesús le dijo: —Cuida de mis ovejas. Por tercera vez le preguntó: —Simón, hijo de Juan, ¿me quieres? Pedro, triste porque le había preguntado por tercera vez si lo quería, le contestó: —Señor, tú lo sabes todo: tú sabes que te quiero. Jesús le dijo: —Cuida de mis ovejas. (Spanish NT: John 21:16-17)
Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ· Ναί, κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· Ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Σίμων Ἰωάννου, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Φιλεῖς με; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Κύριε, πάντα σὺ οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου. (Greek NT:John 21:16-17)
As can be seen from the above, there is significant difference between the English wording; and the Spanish and Greek wording. In English the word “love” is used by Jesus and Peter all three times. But in Spanish Jesus uses the word “amas”(love) the first and second time and Peter uses “quieres”(want). On the third time Jesus uses the word “quieres.” So likewise in the Greek NT, Jesus asks with the word ἀγαπᾷς (sacrificial love), the first two times while Peter answers with “φιλεῖς” (like), but Jesus asks the third time, meeting Peter where he is, with the word “φιλεῖς.” Let us also remember that Jesus spoke Aramaic, His words were later translated into Greek.
This shows how much can be lost in English. There are levels of affection that are not always properly expressed in English. (Eros – Philos – Agape: different Greek expressions of love) This is so important given that Jesus is the “Word’ of God in human form.
Like Peter, we too are not able to meet Jesus where Jesus meets us. So Jesus changes the language to make it easier for us. This is why Peter was hurt, not so much because it was the third time, but rather, because of the realization that he is not able to return the level of love that Jesus has for him. Neither are we. Jesus more than just wants or likes us. Jesus loves us, sacrificially and unconditionally.
Tied in with this language is the instruction to care for the sheep. We have sheep in Ukraine who need caring for. Let us love the Lord, and love the scattered sheep of Ukraine and care for them, trying as hard as we can to meet our Lord Jesus where He is.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John