Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Confidence

Today's psalm emphasizes the confidence that we can and should have in our loving God. The Lord is our refuge, that safe place where we can go for help and healing. He nourishes us with the best food and gives us the best advice. He stays right next to us all the time, closer to us than we are to ourselves. We may not always feel His presence, but He is always there, caring for us, comforting us, teaching us. He will never abandon us.

Therefore, we should rejoice and delight in Him and worship Him and praise His holy name, confident that our God will indeed show us the path to life.

Friday – What Kind of Love?

In today's Gospel, we listen to the famous scene in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times and then, at Peter's affirmative responses, tells Peter to feed and tend His flock.

What most people don't realize, however, is that there are two different words for “love” being used in the dialogue. The first two times Jesus asks Peter, He uses the verb agapaō. This word, which appears for the very first time in the New Testament, refers to a special kind of love. It's really a share in divine love, the kind of love that wills the absolute best for another and is willing to sacrifice the self for another. It's the kind of love that Jesus had when He went to the cross. It's the kind of love that the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity have for each other. It's the kind of love that our Lord asks us to cultivate.

Peter, however, doesn't use the verb agapaō in his response to Jesus. When he says that he loves Jesus, he uses the verb phileō. This word also means love and indicates strong affection and intimacy, warm companionship and kinship, tenderness and care. But it is love on a human level; it does not reach up into the heights of the divine.

Why does Peter use phileō instead of agapaō? Perhaps he isn't sure quite what Jesus means by agapaō. Maybe he doesn't realize the difference between the two words and is simply using the one that is most familiar to him. Or perhaps he isn't quite ready to make a commitment to divine love. After all, he hasn't yet received the Holy Spirit.

Jesus and Peter use these two words for love in their first two exchanges. In the third exchange, something changes. Jesus also uses the verb phileō, and Peter answers with the same. In doing so, Jesus seems to be meeting Peter where he is, accepting Peter's less-than-perfect love as a starting point that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will grow and mature and someday turn into the divine love expressed by the verb agapaō, the love that participates in the very life of the Trinity.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Saturday – Friends

Do you know that Jesus calls us His friends if we keep His commands? Friends, not servants, not slaves, but friends. Friends live in intimacy with one another. Friends know many things about each other. Friends understand each other. Friends share the details of their lives with each other. Friends support each other in good times and bad. Friends are always present to each other even when they are physically far apart. Friends love each other.

We are Jesus' friends if we keep His commands. And what are these commands? They point to the very nature of friendship itself. Jesus commands us to love God and to love one another. When we love, we live in intimacy with our Lord. We know and understand Him. We share the details of our lives with Him and He with us. We receive His support at all times. He is present to us, and we are to Him. We share a love with Him that is beyond all telling.

Jesus, thank You for calling me Your friend. May I always keep You commands. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment