Do You Love Me?

Do You Love Me

I’ll never forget seeing “Fiddler on the Roof” for the first time! “If I were a rich man….” “Tradition! Tradition!” But one of the most moving moments was when Tevye, being confronted with the “new” way his daughters were finding a husband (actually choosing for themselves! The HORROR!), asks his wife of so many years “Do you love me?” What follows is an amazing tender moment for a couple who have had precious few tender moments in their hard life. Beautiful!

I guess this is the heart’s cry of us all. “Do you love me?” You can hear the pain and the fear in the question. “Am I worthy of love?” “Is there anything in me that is lovable?” “Do you value me and miss me and, well, do you love me?” There’s something visceral about this longing. There is something deep here. It is a confrontational question that goes to the very foundation of my own self! No wonder it draws out strong emotions and strong reactions! And these reactions run the gambit of tears to denial to outright hostility! Wow, there’s something to this question “Do you love me?”

Look at our Gospel Lesson today:At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to 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 grieved because he said to him the 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:14-19 (today’s reading goes to verse 25, but we’ll save that for later)

Three times the Lord confronts Peter with the same question and the Lord knows even better that Peter what the answer is in Peter’s heart. But He wants PETER to know just as deeply. The first time the answer comes quickly to Peter’s lips: “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Of course the question is even more nuanced than above. It is “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” What is the Lord referring to “more than these?” He means more than Peter’s friends, more than Peter’s profession of fishing, more than Peter’s family. In other words, more than anything or anyone else. And Peter answers quickly and the Lord responds to Peter’s promise just as quickly “Feed my lambs.” But the Lord asks two more times (interestingly Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times and now he is being asked three times. It matters) and Peter’s answer is increasingly filled with pain and hurt that the Lord is asking three times. To the last time, Peter replies “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Finally, the depth of denial is found and the equal depth of repentance is embraced. But the calling of St. Peter is sealed. He is to tend the Lord’s flock until that fateful day “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”

Each of us confronts our desire to be loved, but our love for God is of a completely different nature. You see, God isn’t like us in that He doesn’t “need” to be loved or valued. He is complete within Himself. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and He is affirmed and loved in an eternal “communion” of love of Persons. So, His call for us to love Him above all things and persons isn’t for His benefit. It is exclusively and completely for our own benefit. God’s call to love Him first is the most selfless invitation ever given to humanity because ALL the benefits of this loving relationship are ALL ON ONE SIDE! Ours!

Today, do you love Him? Your answer to this question is ALWAYS obvious because the answer is seen in your priorities, your actions, your values, and your choices. Those who love Him, care for others, serve Him by serving others, and prioritize their love based on their love for Him. You answer that question in every choice you make, in every priority you set, in how you spend your time and your money. You answer this question everyday! How are you doing? If you want to do more than pay lip service to this all important question, then I invite you to struggle with me in being Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. Thank you for your notes of correction, encouragement, and suggestions! I am so appreciative of your partnership with me in creating this dialogue of faith. Please feel free to email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required


  1. Great post. And I love you Father. I’ve always felt that loving God and loving people are vital. So if you learn the first part of the Great Commandment, the second comes naturally. Additionally, as people,are created in the I,age of God, surely loving people is loving God. A Sikh once said something I liked “service to,people is service to God” and of course he was working from the Pantheism of that religion, but it was still a lovely saying; in Christianity loving God by loving people becomes more intimate because other humans are created in the in the image of God who is himself three persons United in perfect love, and according to Kallistos Ware, the ideal template for family live, married life, monastic life. Church life and all forms of social interaction.

    By the way were you the guy who did the awesome demo video of the Liturgy of Preparation? If not it was your twin double, some Orthodox priest from the Deep South with similar facial hair.

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