Today's Gospel: John 21:15-19
"He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'"
Two of my three children are highly sensitive. When they do something wrong, no matter how insignificant, they beat themselves up incessantly. I try to help them understand that taking it out on themselves doesn't help or solve anything. In fact, focusing so much time and attention on themselves is actually selfish: they're making it all about them, rather than about the people they've hurt.
I try to teach them that after apologizing, they should come up with a way to correct their mistake, then carry that action out. Doing so keeps the focus on the ones wronged, and gives my kids a positive way to make amends. It's fascinating to see the transformation in them once they've made things right. That's when they forgive themselves, and let it go.
You have to imagine Peter was beating himself up pretty badly after denying Jesus three times. Despite feeling the sting of those denials, Jesus loved Peter so much, He offered him the opportunity to balance things out.
After His resurrection, Jesus appears to Peter in this scripture passage and asks him three times if he loves Him. As a gift, He also offers Peter three positive actions to take so Peter can feel he is making things right again: "feed my lambs... tend my sheep... feed my sheep."
Knowing how these positive actions will transform Peter, and allow him to forgive himself, Jesus then offers him the ultimate action. He invites Peter to follow Him in His crucifixion. It was the most profound action Jesus took to make things right for our mistakes. Likewise, it will be for Peter too.
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When I do something wrong, do I add action to my apology to make things right? If not, how might doing so help me to forgive myself?
God, when I make a mistake that hurts someone else, please help me to apologize from the heart. Then inspire me with the right actions to take to make things right again, and forgive myself.
Copyright 2017 Claire McGarry
About the Author
Claire McGarry is the author of the Lenten devotional "With Our Savior," published by Creative Communications for the Family/Bayard, Inc. and Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, to be published by Our Sunday Visitor in the fall of 2021. Her freelance work has appeared in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family magazine, Catechist magazine, These Days devotional, and Keys for Kids devotional. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, a ministry with several different programs for mothers and children, she blogs at Shifting My Perspective.