Do you love me?

How is your holy week going so far? I’ve been doing a lot of catching up since I admittedly did not prepare as I should have in the entire lenten season. You’d think 40 days is enough for me to avoid cramming. Shame on me, I only started getting myself into the spirit of the week last Palm Sunday, right after I officially stopped worrying about my thesis.

If God had a thesis to work on and he chose to pull an Aix on me, I’d be in so much trouble. “Uhh.. Aix, your prayers can wait. Gotta finish this thing, y’know?” he’d most likely go (and I won’t be able to do anything about it ‘cos he’s God). Anyway, I’d like to think it’s not yet too late and I want to share this to all of you in the spirit of what we are commemorating this week.

Dad would always tell my siblings and I that the Greeks have a word for every single thing that can be described by language. In English, love in different variations and levels are simply described as “love.” One can say “I love my boyfriend” or “I love french fries”, and the context in which it was used is the one that sets its differences apart.

Greek on the other hand, has three words to describe love. There is Eros, meaning a love founded on craving and desire. Such is love for specific food, activities, and other things. Second is Filia, meaning love in the context of interdependence (in a family or a community), where it is highly focused on “give and take”. Examples are: I love my family, I love my boyfriend, I love my best friend. Third is Agape, meaning the total self giving kind of love, the highest form of loving, where nothing is asked of return and self-sacrifice is of prime importance.

In John 21: 15-19 (believe me, I had my dad help me in searching the exact passage), we are told of the Lord’s three-fold question to Simon Peter. In English, Peter was asked by the Lord “Do you love me?” three times. Peter answers “Yes Lord, I do” and on the third time, in exasperation, “Lord you know all things, you know I love you.” To me it all sounded like God nagging like a kid to Peter, going all “Are we there yet?” in the backseat of a car; and Peter getting frustrated at God because his answer seemed not good enough to be said only once.

Michael Sundrussi gave a richer explanation to this passage; an explanation that somehow reached a priest who was celebrating Sunday mass my dad attended, and through my dad eventually reached my Sunday lunch plate. According to Sundrussi, St. John wrote the gospel in Greek and the specificity of the exchange between Jesus and Simon Peter was inevitably lost in translation. In actuality, it went a little something like this:

J: Peter, agapes me?

P: Yes Lord, filia.

J: Feed my lamb — (Insert dead air here) — Simon Peter son of John, agapes me?

P: Yes Lord, filia.

J: Take care of my sheep — (Insert dead air here) — Simon Peter son of John, filias me?

P: Lord, you know all things. You know I love (filia) you.”

Did you notice the change in the Lord’s third “Do you love me?” to Peter? Knowing that Peter cannot yet love Him the way He does, we see that the Lord went down to Peter’s level of love. So often this happens to us — to me (Lol, don’t let me drag you down to my level. But if you feel this applies to you, by all means, contemplate with me). So often, in the weakness brought by our humanity, He meets us halfway, reaches out to us on a level close to where we are. Most of the time, if not all, we fail to recognize this of God and His great love for us.

I’ll leave you to think about this. Got my own thinking to do. May we all have a fruitful Paschal Triduum ahead of us. :)

5 thoughts on “Do you love me?

  1. 100% on target for this Holy week. Thanks for the reminder of agape love. More than a Catholic only topic, we had discussed this at a recent gathering I attended. Blessings on you and your family this wonderful time of the year.

    1. Thank you for dropping by. There is nothing more amazing to me than the fact that in spite our differences in religious beliefs, the fundamentals of love, faith, hope, and charity, are the same to all of us. Blessings to you and your family as well!

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