"DO YOU LOVE ME?" THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT!

To-day is the Feast Day of Pope Saint Pius X whose love was kindled in my heart by my childhood Parish Priest, the tall Irishman Father Con Donovan.Father loved Pope Saint Pius X and his devotion caused my child's heart and mind to respond accordingly.The effect has lasted now, even at 74 yrs of age.

The Gospel of the Mass to-day is a very special one. My affection for it grew , when in my teens I learned something important about it from the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, but the story is told in the following item which I posted in 2012 :

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT - BUT WHY IS IT NOT SPOKEN ABOUT?


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 the 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."!!

Comments

Kevin Burgess said…
Thank you for this excellent piece, once again demonstrating what a great love and understanding the dear Archbishop of blessed memory had of Scripture and which he offered in service to the Church. What a towering figure he was.

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