“If you love me, show me!” This is what the Gospel reading reminds me of today—those moments when we tell our children that words aren’t enough: that they must be backed up with actions. Just so, Jesus tells us that if we love him, we must show it in our daily actions. We must feed his sheep; we must tend his lambs.
How awesome it must have been for the disciples in this post-resurrection encounter with Jesus. Gone was the misery of Good Friday. Gone was the uncertainty of Holy Saturday. In their hearts, they might have still been a bit bewildered, but here was hope. As the evangelist tells us, this was the third time Jesus had appeared to them. It was getting clearer and clearer: Jesus was risen indeed.
And, yet, they still needed to fish to live. They were fishermen, after all.
Here, too, in Eastertide, we are still mothers—mothers of big children and mothers of small children. We still have the same responsibilities and struggles that we had before Easter. Now, we just do it with lots of chocolate around. We still have whining, demanding children whose behavior often requires our correction. When addressing these issues, we have to teach our kids that a quick “I love you” isn’t enough. We have to teach them that our actions need to reflect our words. If we love our siblings and our parents, we must demonstrate that love by our loving deeds.
This is what Jesus asks of Peter, who had denied Jesus three times. Now Peter was being asked to affirm his love for Jesus three times. Like anyone, Peter gets a little exasperated by the third time Jesus questions him.
We, too, can get exasperated when called on again and again to affirm our love for Jesus through this calling to Catholic motherhood. We get exasperated with our children, with our spouses, with ourselves, and with God.
But we learn that this exasperation is okay. Peter, our first pope, got exasperated with the Lord himself. Peter was a normal human person with all the imperfections that implies, yet God still chose him to shepherd his precious sheep. Mothers, let us move, like Peter, through our exasperation to answer the call of Jesus–the call of Love himself–to tend his lambs, to feed his sheep.
Prayer: Please, Lord, help me to show love to my children in the way they need it most. Help me to move beyond my exasperation and answer your call. Give me the strength to put love into action in my daily life.