In our gospel, the risen Jesus commissions the apostle Peter to be the shepherd of his flock, the one Church. Peter, who once denied his Lord, now redeems himself with his answers to the three questions of Jesus: “Peter do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, I do,” says Peter; three times Jesus asks, three times Peter responds. Through these questions, Jesus makes sure Peter is worthy of the mission he is about to receive. Peter in the past denied his Lord three times; he now says three times, “Lord, I do love you.” Peter is now fitting for the job; he is now willing to be faithful to his Master. Peter has changed his heart and has repented; his faith has increased and now he is entrusted with the mission of taking care of the sheep, that is, of the community of believers: “Tend and feed my sheep!” commands Jesus.
There is now a better relationship between Jesus and Peter based on love and trust. Jesus forgives Peter his past denials and wants to move on. The mission that Peter received from Jesus was difficult and even dangerous because he became the visible head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ; he is made sharer in the ministry of shepherding, which will actually cost him his life; he would be killed in Rome because of his bearing witness to his mission, to his faith. The merciful and risen Jesus gave Peter a second chance and transformed him as his courageous and faithful witness. He wants to do the same with us; because of our sins we have also, like Peter, denied our Lord. Let us repent and be willing to be transformed by Christ’s resurrection!