A RITE OF FORGIVENESS


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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt 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. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (Jn 21: 15-19)

How very human, and humane, is this “rite of forgiveness.” I mean, because here the guilty party, a grown man, never explicitly asks for forgiveness. Instead, what happens here is, our Lord cooks breakfast for everyone, including Peter, and then lets Peter say what Christ knows already, that Peter does, indeed, love Him. So there’s more than one way to forgive, and ask forgiveness. That’s all I’m thinking today. And glory be to my Lord’s majestic, loving subtlety, because He lets me say I’m sorry, when I really am, in more ways than one.

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