Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Let me just start by saying that today’s Gospel reading is quite possibly my favorite reading in all of Scripture. But context is important for us to truly grasp the words that pass between Peter and the Lord so please, bare with me, as I nerd out a bit.
See in the English language, we only have one word to describe “love” (even though it can mean a number of different things). You can “love” ice cream and “love” your parents, but that doesn’t mean you “love” them the exact same way. The “love” I have for my family far surpasses the “love” I have for mint chocolate chip (though sometimes it’s a closer call than I’d like to admit).
But in the Greek language (which the Gospel of John was originally written in) they have a number of different words to describe different kinds of love. Today we only need to understand two: ‘Phileo’ and ‘Agape’. ‘Phileo’ refers to an affectionate type of love, more of a fondness towards another. While, ‘agape’ speaks to the highest form of love. A love so great and so deep that is would incite the God of the Universe to die on a cross.
Why is this relevant?
Because in today’s Gospel, Jesus isn’t just asking Peter if he loves him over and over again.
Here’s a breakdown of the conversation that’s a bit more accurate to the original text:
Jesus asks, “Simon, Son of John, do you ‘agape’ me?” As in, “Do you all out, no strings attached, die on a cross for me, love me?”
And Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I ‘phileo’ you.” Meaning “I feel affection and a fondness for you.”
The again Jesus asks, “Simon, Son of John, do you ‘agape’ me?”
And, again, Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I ‘phileo’ you.”
Finally, the Lord asks, “Simon, Son of John, do you ‘phileo’ me.”
And Peter responds, “"Lord, you know everything; you know that I ‘phileo’ you."
So what, you might ask, does all this Greek actually mean? What’s the lesson, the takeaway from it all? Well here it is: God meets us where we’re at. He accepts us for who we are. He loves us as he finds us. Today we see how Peter was not able to offer to the Lord the ‘agape’ love that Christ desired from him. And what does the Lord do? Does he run away, cast Peter out, seek out someone “holier?” No. He accepts Peter exactly as he is and calls him to greatness.
Here’s the thing friends, I don’t know where you are with the Lord, but I do know, from personal experience, that it’s easy to feel like we’re messing this whole “Jesus thing” up. But the Lord, he doesn’t love us because we love him perfectly, he loves us because we’re his. So today let us ask for the grace to accept God’s ‘agape’ love, even if ‘phileo’ is all we have to offer in return.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Do you 'agape' or 'phileo' God? Where are you right now? What might need to change for your love to grow deeper?
Do you think you aren't 'holy enough' to be called one of God's chosen?
Do you feel you're 'messing up this whole Jesus thing'? Tell the Lord about where you feel you need to love him differently. Talk to him about where you're struggling.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"I love you Lord."
"I 'phileo' you Lord."
"I 'agape' you Lord."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take some time today to really think about the love you have for God. How can you love him just a little more this week? Make a specific plan for adding a few minutes each day to your prayer life to make your relationship with God an even greater priority.
Smartphone Lock Screen
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Today's prayer was prepared by Lauren Wright, a Youth Minister in Rockford, IL.
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