Fiddler on the Roof "Do you love me"
Good ol' Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof asked a most compelling question... "Do you love me?" He asks his wife, Golde, and after some deliberation, she responds, "For 25 years, I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked your cow... after 25 years, why ask now?"
I've always liked Golde's response because it resonates with the way I express my love. Yes, it can be clumsy at times, and to the untrained eye it can appear as nothing more than actions meant to appease, but at the root of everything, there is love.
In the Gospel on this Third Sunday in Easter, we see the Risen Christ approach Peter. After they had eaten, Christ asks Peter "Do you love me more than these?" Peter responds with a "Duh!" But then Christ asks again, and again. Finally, more than a little worried, Peter responds with a beautiful proclamation of faith. "You know that I love you." he says. For the Peter, it is obvious that he loves Christ, but just a few passages earlier, we read how Peter had denied Jesus three times. Upon recalling Peter's denial, the question that Christ poses to Peter then takes on a different meaning. But what does it mean to love? And what is it that the Risen Christ calls us to in our every day lives?
Especially in today's politically charged environment, it seems that to love is to fall in line with one or another agenda, party, ideal or whatever. This is easy and quite frankly, something that I find myself doing on a regular basis. This comfort even means that Christ is put into a compartment that is one more piece of the puzzle that is my daily life. The questions Christ asked Peter, however, have a more profound root than anything we may be aware of. In the Gospel, Jesus the Christ, was asking Peter to a more profound level of love, one in which Peter's denial would then become impossible. From His first question, Christ invites Peter to reflect on the answer in a manner that is worthy of the Christ, Peter, however, impetuous as ever, responds with an answer that is quick and obviously prepared. Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Almost like Golde's response, Peter's is easy and immediately given. Yes, I love you. But that is not what Christ asks. Christ is calling Peter to a profession of love that is rooted in the deep reality of God's love, a profession of love that cannot be easily swayed or pushed aside. "Do you love me?" is a question that is born of God made man, it is a declaration of who He is and an invitation to accept Him, not only in the now, but in the deepest parts of our heart. Much like Jesus being born in that manger, Christ is asking us to accept His love once again, but this time, He calls us to more! The love that Christ shares with us is a love that challenges us and makes us more who we are meant to be. It is a love that compels us to love and to live in that love. Christs' love is one that brings us to the limits of our comfort and pushes us just a bit more. It is a love that carries us in the difficult moments and rejoices in the moments of light. The question Christ is asking is not so much one that can be answered with a simple "yes." Instead, the question Christ asks is one that can be answered in the model of Golde: "Do I love you? I serve you in others and feed your sheep, I comfort the widow and welcome the stranger. I give my life and follow you near. Of course I love you!" This response is not one born out of a fear to serve, but rather, a service born of the love we have known. Do I love you? Our yes is lived out in our ministry, our life, and in the way we love. We may not all sing this out loud, but let our living be proclamation enough of the Love we have known, Christ the Risen one, our life, our light, our LOVE!
As always, know that you are loved and your are beautiful. Be blessed. Fr. Rick