Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection-6-3-22
Friday of the 7th week of Easter, June 3, 2022, Feast of Saint Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs
Acts 25: 13b-21; Ps 103-1-2, 11-12, 19-20; Jn 21:15-19
When we hear the readings for today, it is easy to wonder how they fit together. After all, the first reading with Paul is all about Paul’s imprisonment and how he is accused by the Jewish Priests for preaching about Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him. In the questions, Jesus asks Him about three different kinds of love. What we are missing here is the translation into English from Greek where we do not have a different word for each type of love. We can, however, relate with the first type of love, an empathetic or storge love, which is all about loving each other as a human being. The second, being a philia love, which is like a friendly love or like parents to their children and vice versa. And the last one is an agape love, where you love each other unconditionally. This is where Jesus wants Peter to be with Him. An Agape love, where Peter can love Jesus unconditionally, like Jesus loves Peter. It is after this last question where Peter, somewhat annoyed, says yes, I love you more than anything that Jesus answers, “Feed my sheep.” It is also at this point that Jesus hands His ministry over to Peter and establishes Peter as the ultimate shepherd of His flock.
However, if you think about it, in Paul’s case, he is at the Agape love that Jesus is looking for. It is through that love that Paul teaches and preaches unconditionally about Jesus’ love for us, regardless of the consequences. Later on, in the book of Acts, Paul continues his teaching, and shares the love of Jesus in Rome itself, not worrying about what may happen to him. Much like Saint Charles Lwanga and his twenty-one companions, who were all martyred on this day in 1886. Saint Charles Lwanga was much like Paul and ultimately like Peter, where he understood the agape love of Jesus, and taught it to everyone he came in contact with. There is not much known about him, except that he was in King Mwanga of Uganda’s court. It is there he protected the pages and other members of the king’s court from the immoral desires of the king and taught them about Jesus. They were all martyred in terrible deaths because they chose not to renounce their faith and would not succumb to the king’s demands. It is said that as Saint Charles Lwanga was being burned alive, he told the guard, “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” This is true agape love.
Someday, unless it has already happened in your prayer time, we are all going to be asked those same three questions, “Do you storge love me? Do you philia love me? Do you agape love me?” I hope we are all ready to say, “Yes!”