Merciful Love

A well-known speaker began his conference by holding up a P1,000 bill. Looking at the audience, he announced: “who would like to have this P1,000 bill?” Immediately, almost all hands in the room were up. He then said: “I am going to give this P1,000 to you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the peso bill with his hands. He then asked: “who still wants it?” The hands remained in the air. “Well,” he added, “what if I do this?” He dropped it to the floor and proceeded to grind it with his shoe. He picked it up, crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still all the hands were raised because the bill had not decreased in value. It is still worth P1,000.

Many times in our lives, we feel crumpled and beaten to the ground because of the choices we make or the circumstances that come our way. We may feel totally lost and worthless. Yet we are still valuable and important in God’s eyes. Our worth comes, not from what we do, but from who we are. We are God’s children; he loves us infinitely. We may fall into sin or does not respond to His grace, yet our value does not change. We are still special in God’s heart. Out of love, Jesus founded the Church by choosing apostles who will continually remind the world of God’s unconditional love.

Today’s gospel narrates how Jesus confirmed Peter as the leader of his Church, though he had denied him three times. It happened in the shore of Galilee in one of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. This proves that Jesus’ appearances were not mere hallucinations or inventions by the disciples. In the first part of the gospel, the risen Jesus gives them a symbol of their mission through a miraculous catch of fish. They were chosen to be “fishers of men.” The second part of the gospel, is a dialogue between Jesus and Peter where he asked him three times whether he loves him. These two metaphors, namely, fishing and shepherding are the duties of the Church entrusted by Christ in order to be a sacrament of salvation.

By forgiving Peter and reinstating him as leader of the Christian community, he is mandated to feed Jesus’ lambs. He is commissioned to be a steward of Jesus’ flock taking care of it willingly, not grudgingly. He is to watch over them not out of greed but out of eagerness. Most of all, he is to nourish them and become a sign of God’s love for them. Through the community’s shepherd, Jesus continues to show his merciful love.

Prayer: Lord, may I also love you with all my heart and accept the challenge to serve with great generosity. 

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