Do You Love Me?

Do you love me more than these? In my contemplation, I also heard this question, “Keith, son of Rolando, do you love me more than these?” And I started to wonder, “These? What are ‘these’, Lord? Are these my relatives and friends? My talent and ability? These mistakes, weaknesses and problems of mine? These honors of mine? This memory of mine?” God just repeated: “These.” And to my great surprise I answered His question, “Yes, my Lord. I love you more than these.”

It was Easter of 2016, before I entered the seminary, when I first pondered on this question. After months of wrestling with this question, countless opportunities of soul-searching, and a long process of discernment, I knew in myself that the Lord was calling me as He did in calling Peter.

The “call” first bothered me when I was in the 5th grade. I could not tell others because I was afraid they might not believe me that I really felt the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, when I received the sacrament of Confirmation. I promised then that I would offer my life, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the greater glory of God. That was why I joined the activities in our chapel as a catechist and lector. But I felt like there is something more that God would want me to do.

I went through high school and college thinking about the challenge of a vocation but I was not serious. Until graduation came and the call got louder. But I decided to enter the corporate world in order to prioritize the needs of my family. The world of banking and finance was fun and rewarding, but in my quiet moments, between prayers, I found myself contemplating God’s love in the midst of everything that I have.

In the Gospel, Simon Peter was also reminded how much he was loved by the Lord. That love of Jesus for His disciples remained despite the many failings and betrayals done in the past. Peter was led to contemplate on that very love which sustained his life and being. Our seminary life also reverberates this question. Each day in the formation, I learn to admit that I am a sinner but I still answer “Yes” to God’s question because He loves me despite everything. There is nothing greater than His goodness. He can do more than I can do alone. So, I let go of my fears and worries and let God lead me wherever He wants me to follow Him.

By: Sem. Keith R. Buenaventura

Today’s Gospel

Jn 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

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