Personal call, Personal love, Personal mission

Thursday, March 15, 2007

(By Fr. Anthony Bannon)

He said to him a 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)

Christ first verifies Peter's love for him, and then gives him his personal mission to preach and spread the kingdom. He said to him a 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) Christ first verifies Peter's love for him, and then gives him his personal mission to preach and spread the kingdom.

Christ himself in the hours of his agony in Gethsemane has words that allow us to see that he lives the same order in his own life and action: he is in prayer, his human nature is rebelling against the suffering and death he sees before him, but his love for his Father brings him to say not my will but thine be done. In his encounter with his Father in prayer he renews his love, and in that love his human will finds reason and strength to do what his Father wants, despite the personal revulsion he experiences.

Our encounter with Christ is an encounter which takes place through the exercise of the gift of faith we received in baptism, which allows us to discover him in the eucharist and in the gospel, principally, and converse with him there, nourishing our love.

It is in this encounter, as you grow in your love for him, that you will discover the concrete thing he wants you to do. By learning to love him you will learn what he would have you do. Not that he is suddenly going to map out for you in detail your whole life; that can only be discovered one step at a time, and by taking each step he prepares you for the next. But the more we love him, the more we will think like him, and the more we will want to do what he wants.

He said some words to Peter which tell us where our concerns should lie: not in figuring everything out, wanting to know what he is asking of everyone else, but in living our own personal mission. When Peter saw him (the disciple whom Jesus loved), he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" (John 21:21-22)

We must seek Christ. Nothing else matters, and everything else falls into place when we have him. As the Holy Father repeats: Be not afraid! Open the doors of your heart to Christ. In prayer. In action. In charity.

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