The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter is John 21:15-19. 

Following the Ascension and multiple appearances in Jerusalem to the Apostles, Christ meets the Apostles by the Sea of Galilee (Tiberius). After breakfast on a charcoal fire, Christ engages Peter, recalling Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ and Peter’s discipleship by a charcoal fire (18:18) on the night He was arrested. Calling him Simon, instead of Peter, a significant rebuke for his unbelief. 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 Christ and Christ’s prophecy that Peter would deny Him three times (13:37-38). 

To restore the relationship, Christ asks Peter to repent and profess his love for Him three times.  The first two times Christ questions Peter He uses the Greek word, agapao, meaning “dearly love”, while Peter responds with the Greek, phileo, meaning “friendly love.” The third time, Christ uses phileo, or “friendly love” and Peter responds with the same.  Christ challenges Peter to an “all-in” kind of love, especially in light of his previous denial, but settles for Peter’s “friendly love.”  

With each response from Peter, Christ instructs Peter to feed or tend Christ’s sheep or lambs. In this, the Good Shepherd installs Peter as the earthly shepherd of the Catholic Church. Ominously, Christ cryptically reveals Peter’s future blessed martyrdom;  “stretch[ing]” out his hands and “go[ing]” where he doesn’t want to go is a prophecy of Peter’s own crucifixion after a his long life of leading the Church. Christ commands Peter, “Follow me”, another allusion to Peter’s crucifixion. 

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Prophet, Christ recalls His prophecy of Peter’s denial that came true and Peter’s future martyrdom. Divine King, Christ rebukes Peter, masterfully reminding Peter of his three-fold denial; Christ also commands Peter to lead His Church.  Divine Mercy, Christ allows Peter to repent and patiently accepts Peter’s best attempt to love.  

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ is aware of each and every one of our failings and, like Peter, will call us to account.  What types of denials of Christ have you made recently through your thoughts and deeds? Be specific. 

2) Despite the continuing fracturing of the Protestant rebellion, Christ’s Catholic Church continues to hold fast to Christ’s truth. Renew your understanding of Christ’s Divine Wisdom in granting authority to Peter (CCC 553, 880-882) and pray to always remain faithful to Church, especially during periods of papal scandal. 

3) Christ hungers for men to have an “all-in” (agapao) kind of love for Him and is patient for Peter’s love to mature.  During Easter, realize that Christ desires the continual Conversion of the Baptized (CCC 1427-1429) and pray for the Holy Spirit to help you develop “all-in” love for Christ.