John 21: 14-17
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?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he 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.
Greetings to all! Well before I get into what feel like God is putting on my heart today I wanted to take a second just to thank all of you for your continued prayerful support of our family. We are very much leaning into it right now and want you all to know that it is truly working. We are hanging in there, fighting the good fight, and trying our best to love each other with all that we have and are. I shared a story with Ali that one of the readers had emailed me about a real connection her five year old daughter has with Baby Cate and immediately Ali burst into tears, I was like OH GREAT, Good job Charlie!, but actually she said, that is her high point of the day! We share high points a dinner every night with our kiddos and that precious story help lighten the load of grief for Ali, so thank you all very much for you stories of how God is still using our sweet Cate to move in your lives.
As I sat in Mass today listening to the reading I was very moved by how gentle our God is. Here is Jesus sitting, I would imagine almost face to face with Simon Peter, the same Simon Peter who had denied Him publicly three times just days earlier. The same Simon Peter who not only denied him, but was no where to be seen, at least not openly anyway during Jesus’ crucifixion. This had been one of Jesus’ closest Apostles during His whole public ministry and Peter just bailed that sinking ship as quickly as He could. Jesus, in the most loving gentle way calls Peter back into relationship with Him. But, notice how Jesus does it. It is not forceful, it is not derogatory, it is not degrading, or humiliating, in fact all Jesus does is ask Him a series of questions.
Well, let’s be honest, Jesus asks the SAME question three times, “Simon, son of John, Do you love me?” Did you really hear that? Read that again and allow those words to sink into your heart. “Do you love me?” I love it! There are a million questions that Jesus could of asked, like; What in the Hell where you thinking? Do I mean that little to you? Are you that chicken? Do you feel bad about that decision? Are you sorry? But Jesus doesn’t, because those questions never entered his mind or heart, Jesus KNEW how much Peter was hurting, how ashamed and sorrowful he felt, He knew that those questions would not empower Peter, but cripple him. So what does Jesus ask Him, “Do you love me?” You can almost hear the gentle and healing words filling your ears and overflowing your heart. Our God does not get caught up in the past for He looks to what lies ahead for us, just to steal St. Paul’s words and as the Psalmist says in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.
Now thinking about those powerful words I have to be honest when I fail miserably as a husband and father. When I selfishly choose my way over God's way to serve my wife and children or when I run from the commitment I have made to be a husband and a father, those are not the words I hear. Especially in this time of mourning often it is easier to just worry about me, then to worry about Ali, Ella, and Dude and sometimes that is what I choose to do to be honest and the words that I hear are not, “Charlie, son of Chuck, do you love?” The questions I get usually start with YOU and the followed by one of these adjectives idiot, moron, loser, self-absorbed jerk, and then end with one of these questions, are you happy now?
Do you really feel good about that? Is that what “holy” dad’s do?
After listening to the Gospel today I got to thinking, who am I listening to? That is not what I hear when I turn my back on Jesus. Ah, yes, what a perfect opportunity for the evil one to kick you while you are down, so you stay down, but what does our God do when we are down? He comes oh so gently to bring us back in to the fold and He does it with the most compassionate and understanding demeanor. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us like that and who runs to meet us, like the prodigal father. In those times that we turn our back on our God, our spouse, our children, our family, our friends and those sharp words of condemnation come flying at our face may we take refuge in the shadow of His wing and listen very carefully for the beautiful words, “Charlie, Do you love me?” You can fill your name in there where mine is, I don’t think God would ask you that question with my name in it that would just be a little awkward. It would be like my grandmother who, bless her heart, could not remember my name so she could just call me random cousins and/or uncles until she go it right. Anyway, may we all keep praying for that we can be gentle with ourselves as God is gentle with us. Much Love, The Cantrells