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Daily Gospel Reading - June 2, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: John 21:15-19


15 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." 16 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." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the 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. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."

 

Meditation:

The Lord Jesus asked Simon Peter and he asks each one of us a very personal and profound question - do you love me more than anything else that might be very dear to you? How can the love of Jesus Christ be so attractive and so costly at the same time? Jesus on many occasions spoke to his disciples about the nature of God's unquenchable love. God is love (1 John 4:16) because he is the creator and source of all that is true love. His love is unconditional, unmerited, and unlimited. We can't buy it, earn it, demand it. It is a pure gift, freely given, and freely received. God's love doesn't change or waver. It endures because it is eternal and timeless. It’s the beginning and the end - the purpose for which God created us and why he wants us to be united with him in a bond of unbreakable love. And it’s the essence of what is means to be a son or daughter of God the eternal Father.

 

Love gives all for the good of others
The Lord Jesus shows us that love is a personal choice and a gift freely given - it is the giving of oneself to another person for their sake. Unselfish love is oriented wholly to the good of the other person for their own welfare and benefit. John the Evangelist tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave us his only-begotten Son" (John 3:16) who took on human flesh for our sake and who died upon the cross for our salvation - to set us free from the power of sin so that we might receive abundant everlasting life and peace with God.

 

God's love heals and transforms our lives and frees us from fear, selfishness, and greed. It draws us to the very heart of God and it compels us to give him the best we have and all we possess - our gifts, our time, our resources, our full allegiance, and our very lives. Paul the Apostle tells us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given us (Romans 5:5). What can quench such love? Certainly fear, sin, pride, indifference, disbelief, and the loss of hope and trust in God's promises and his mercy towards us.

 

Do you love me more than these?
Why did Jesus question Peter's loyalty and love three times in front of the other apostles? It must have caused Peter great pain and sorrow since he had publicly denied Jesus three times during the night of Jesus' betrayal and condemnation by the religious authorities who had sought to kill him. Now Peter, full of grief and deep remorse, unequivocally stated that he loved his master and was willing to serve and obey him whatever it might cost. When Jesus asks him "do you love me more than these?" Jesus may have pointed to the boats, fishing nets, and catch of fish from the night's work. He may have challenged Peter to abandon his work as a fisherman for the task of shepherding the community of God's people. Jesus may have also pointed to the other disciples and to Peter's previous boast: "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away" (Matthew 26:33). Peter now makes no boast or comparison but humbly responds: "You know that I love you."

 

We love because he loved us first
The Lord Jesus calls each one of us, even in our own weakness, sins, and failings, to love him above all else. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) in his Confession wrote:

 

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new. Late have I loved you! ...You shone your Self upon me to drive away my blindness. You breathed your fragrance upon me... and in astonishment I drew my breath...now I pant for you! I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched me! - and I burn to live within your peace" (Confession 10:27).

 

Nothing but our own sinful pride and stubborn wilfullness can keep us from the love of God. He loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding graciousness and mercy towards us. Do you allow God's love to fill your heart and transform your life?

 

"Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and burn away everything within it that may be unloving, unkind, ungrateful, unholy, and not in accord with your will. May I always love what you love and reject what is contrary to your love and will for my life."

 
Daily Gospel Reading - June 1, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26


20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that  you have sent me. 22 The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as  you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

 

Meditation:

When you pray what do you ask for - God's help, blessing, guidance, and wisdom? One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities we have been given by God is to pray not only for ourselves, but for others as well. The Lord Jesus lived a life full of prayer, blessing, and gratitude to his Father in heaven. He prayed for his disciples, especially when they were in great need or danger. Mark tells us in his Gospel account (see chapter 6:46-51) that when Jesus was praying alone on the mountain he saw that his disciples were in great distress due to a life-threatening storm that was beating against their boat. Jesus immediately came to their rescue - walking on the waves of the rough waters before he calmed their fears and calmed the raging waters as well! Luke records in his Gospel account the words of Jesus to Simon Peter shortly before Jesus' arrest and Peter's denial of the Lord three times. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). Jesus' prayers were personal, direct, and focused on the welfare and well-being of others - especially that they might find peace and unity with God and with one another.

 

Jesus prays for all Christians to be united as one
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in the Gospel of John, the "high priestly" prayer which Jesus prayed aloud at his last supper meal with his disciples (John 17). This prayer most clearly reveals the heart and mind of Jesus - who and what he loved most - love for his Father in heaven and love for all who believe in him. His prayer focuses on the love and unity he desires for all who would believe in him and follow him, not only in the present, but in the future as well.

 

Jesus' prayer concludes with a petition for the unity among all Christians who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus prays for all men and women who will come after him and follow him as his disciples (John 17:20). In a special way Jesus prays here for each one of us that as members of his body the church we would be one as he and his Father are one. The unity of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, with the eternal Father is a unity of mutual love, service, and honor, and a oneness of mind, heart, and spirit. The Lord Jesus calls each and every one of his followers into this unity of mutual love, respect, service, honor, and friendship with all who belong to Christ.

 

To make him known and loved by all
Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his sacrifice shows the great love and trust he had for his beloved disciples. He knew they would abandon him in his hour of trial, yet he entrusted to them the great task of spreading his name throughout the world and to the end of the ages. The Lord Jesus entrusts us today with the same mission - to make him known and loved by all. Jesus died and rose again that all might be one as he and the Father are one. Do you love all who belong to Christ and do you recognize and accept all baptized Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, draws each one of us into the unity which he and the Father have together and into the unity he desires for all who belong to him - we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and sons and daughters of our beloved Father in heaven.

 

The Lord intercedes for us right now
The Lord Jesus Christ included each one of us in his high priestly prayer at the last supper meal with his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice on the cross (John 17:20). And today the Lord Jesus continues his high priestly office as our intercessor before the throne of God in heaven. Paul the Apostle tells us that it is "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34; see also Hebrews 7: 25). Do you join in Jesus' high priestly prayer that all who profess Jesus as Lord may grow in love and unity together as brothers and sisters who have been redeemed through the precious blood that was shed for us on the cross?

 

"Heavenly Father, have mercy on all your people who have been redeemed by the precious blood of your Son who offered up his life for us on the cross. Pardon our sins and heal our divisions that we may grow in love, unity, and holiness together as your sons and daughters. May all Christian people throughout the world attain the unity for which Jesus prayed on the eve of his sacrifice. Renew in us the power of the Holy Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love, respect, and care for all of our brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus Christ."

 
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