|AN AILING ARCHBISHOP FULTON J SHEEN IS GREETED BY BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL II|
The Gospel is John 21 : 15 -19 in which according to our translations Jesus asks Saint Peter three times "Do you love Me?" Most preachers and teachers go with it as we see it, But the late Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J Sheen brilliant Scholar, Preacher and Retreat master and TV Star in the 1950s, pointed out that two verbs are used for "love "in the original Greek text : Jesus' first two questions use "agape" which is an unconditional all-consuming, sacrificial love - even unto death.However, both times, Peter, in responding, uses "phileo" - the normal natural love between friends.For His third question, Jesus lowers the bar to meet poor Peter's more feeble responses : He Himself uses Phileo on this occasion to accommodate Peter.
If we cast our minds back to Holy Thursday night, we recall Jesus'prediction , and Peter's triple denial of Him, and how Saint Peter wept following the Lord's glance as He was taken away ( "conversus Dominus" Luke 22:61 the Gospel tells us - "the Lord turned" and looked back at Peter). Clearly Peter's heart and mind went straight to that painful memory when Jesus asked "Do you love Me more than these"(first question) He was not going to condemn himself again by any rash assertions, such as those he had previously made. He knows he had no right to judge the degree of love the others had for Jesus. So , his head and heart swimming in painful memories, he responds to the Lord's use of agape with phileo.
But so great indeed is the Divine love for him that God made Man, Jesus Christ, lowers the standard to accommodate Saint Peter. It is an amazing story of God's Love at work. Saint Peter redeems himself somewhat with his heartfelt response : "Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You...."
The discourse concludes with Our lord's prophecy of Peter's death and the price of his Primacy.
|"ORATE FRATRES" ARCHBISHOP SHEEN CELEBRATES HOLY MASS|
Have you ever heard a Homilist advert to this aspect of the triple questioning? At 72 yrs of age I have not heard it done in Australia, and would have remained in ignorance had it not been for Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Radio Broadcast ( audio from thr TV Shows in the U.S.A.) in 1950's Sydney when I was in my teens. Remarkably I understand it is a routine part of homilies on that Gospel in Nigeria! Then again they receive Communion on the tongue whilst kneeling, as if in the Presence of God Himself! ( Of course they are, as are we - what is wrong with us?)
Oh ! And lest you think the Greeks forgot something! There was a third Greek word for "Love ": "Eros"for physical intimacy. And actually a rarely used Fourth word "Storge"for a general love such as for a group or team or college student body for example.
As the saying goes : "The Greeks had a word for it."!!