Jesus rehabilitates St. Peter for this three-fold denials on Good Friday. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Obedience so he can be obedient to the Successor of Peter and by cultivating the Virtue of Prudence so he can continually strive to have an “all-in” love for Jesus.
7th Week of Easter – Friday – Jn 21:15-19
Appearing to the Apostles by the Sea of Galilee (also called, Tiberius), after a miraculous catch of fish and hearty breakfast, Jesus confronts Peter, recalling Peter’s three-fold denial of Him on the night He was arrested (Jn 18:18). By calling Peter, “Simon”, Jesus significantly rebukes Peter for his unbelief and denial at the Passion, forcing Simon to ritually renew his commitment to Jesus. Jesus asks, “Do you love Me more than these?”; this is another stinging rebuke, recalling Peter’s boast that he would lay his life down for Jesus, and confirming the accuracy of His prophecy that Peter would deny Him three times (Jn 13:37-38).
To rehabilitate Peter, Jesus asks Peter to profess his love for Him three times with three questions, one for each of Peter’s three denials during the Passion. The first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the Greek word, agapao, meaning “dearly love”, while Peter responds with the Greek, phileo, meaning “friendly love.” The third time, Jesus uses phileo, or “friendly love”, and Peter responds with the same. Jesus challenges Peter to an “all-in” kind of love (“dearly love” versus only “friendly love”), especially in light of his previous denial, but settles for Peter’s “friendly love.”
Each time, Jesus instructs Peter to feed or tend Jesus’ sheep or lambs, urging Peter to imitate the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:1-21), and installs Peter as the earthly shepherd of the Holy Catholic Church. Ominously, Jesus cryptically reveals Peter’s future blessed martyrdom; “stretch[ing]” out his hands and “go[ing]” where he doesn’t want to go, and “follow Me”, are allusions to Peter’s future crucifixion.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at how Jesus, the Divine King, rehabilitates Peter to be the first pope: earlier, Jesus had harshly Upbraided Peter (Mk 16:14) for his denial and lack of faith; here, Jesus deliberately probes Peter’s love three times, one for each of Peter’s denials; Divine Charity, Jesus settles for Peter’s “friendly love”, mysteriously foretelling of Peter’s martyrdom, where Peter will demonstrate the highest form of love when he is crucified for Jesus (Jn 15:13).
Be obedient to the Successor of Peter
Realize: With Divine Wisdom, Jesus commands that His Holy Catholic Church be “one”, establishes Peter to lead His Church and all the Apostles obediently follow Peter. For two millennia, the unity of His Catholic Church has been preserved by the obedience of bishops, priests and lay faithful to the pope, the successor of Peter; in sad contrast, born in division, the Protestant revolution has led to a continual battle among leaders, disunity, and the scandal of tens of thousands of Protestant denominations.
Believe: Review Peter’s role as the first pope, and the Structure of the Church (CCC 552-553, 880-887).
Pray: Jesus, Divine King, help me build the Virtue of Obedience (a part of Justice) so I humbly respect and obediently submit to Peter’s successor, the current pope, I continually pray for the pope to do Your Will, and I always remain a loyal son of Your Holy Catholic Church.
Strive to have an “all-in” love for Jesus
Realize: While Jesus patiently tolerates a Catholic man’s mediocre affection for Him, only saints who have an “all-in” (agapao) kind of love for Him will be received into Heaven.
Believe: Reflect upon Concupiscence (CCC 1264, 1426, 2515) and the continual Conversion of the Baptized (CCC 1423, 1427-1429).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Prudence, help me grow in the Virtue of Prudence so I continually challenge myself to greater conversion, striving to identify and eliminate my sins and to have an “all-in” love for You.