Do You Love Me?

post06This week’s reading assignment:  John 21

After this, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias….Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”  Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?”  They knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.  This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.  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”…..    -John 21:1, 13-15

The appeal to the love of Peter reveals the unfathomable mystery that Christ seeks our love, that he wants not only to be obeyed but also to be loved.  – Dietrich von Hildebrand

“The Christian experience of God is not only participation in Jesus’ experience of God, but also gravitates toward his Person and consists of friendship with him.  On this point, all the great theologians, most of whom are also honored as saints, reach an agreement.  The true beginning of being a Christian, and hence the first thing needed to overcome the crisis in the Church, ‘is love for Jesus Christ.  This love makes a person a Christian….This will never change.’ (de Lubac)  De Lubac sees Origen, Bernard, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Mohler, Newman, and others as agreeing on this personal understanding of the faith.  It is a personalism ‘which the first Apostles, especially the Apostle Paul, professed and which so many Saints, so many simple Christians lived without intellectual presumption.’ (de Lubac)

“This Christological orientation was for de Lubac, even before any theological reflection, first and foremost an experience of faith.  The spirituality of the Jesuit Order helped him to learn and practice friendship with Jesus.” – from Meet Henri de Lubac by Rudolf Voderholzer (See Sources and Resources)

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We can, right now, be reminded of this reality in the lives of many of the most important leaders of the Church such as de Lubac, who created the documents of Vatican II, when we ponder the life and spirituality of our present Holy Father Francis, another Jesuit whose personal friendship with Jesus finds its roots in the true personalist spirituality embodied in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teachings and Spiritual Exercises.  True Jesuit spirituality is meant to lead to a transformative, real encounter with Jesus Christ, as real as that of the Apostles when he called to them from the shore of the sea, and as real as that of our first Pope Peter when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?”

I want to conclude this Year of Faith study of St. John’s gospel with a passage from Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur, which I believe brings together into the present reality of our own day-to-day lives all of the central truths of the powerful Living Word of God which we have encountered throughout the past eleven months:

“….(I resolve) to meditate every day on the beauty, love, and holiness of the Heart of Jesus.  To offer in a spirit of reparation part of the suffering and deprivation I now endure, consecrating the rest to other intentions:  the conversion and holiness of those who are dear to me, the salvation of others, the good of the Church.  In the absence of all conscious joy, to establish myself more firmly than ever, by God’s grace, in complete serenity.  Never to show by irritation or by outward exhaustion, which is more likely for me, the moral and physical fatigue caused by certain difficulties and long illness.  To do everything to preserve and improve my health, and to make of this disagreeable concern, my practice of self-denial.

“To learn from the Heart of Jesus the secret of love for others and deep knowledge of them:  how to touch their wounds without making them sting, and how to dress them without reopening them; to give myself to them and yet maintain my privacy;  to disclose truth in its entirety and yet to make it known according to the degree of light that each can bear.  The knowledge needed for this ministry comes from Jesus Christ, by encountering him in the Eucharist and in prayer.” – copied  from Magnificat

May this become, more and more, our own resolution as we come into closer union with Jesus’ Heart.  Shalom, jc