So, today is the Gospel where Peter is asked by Jesus three times, 'Do you love me?' It is always one of my favourite Gospels, especially when it is dovetailed with the fishing trip. Peter leaps from a boat 'wearing practically nothing', throws his cloak round him, and rushes to greet his friend, his Lord. I love Peter when he rushes about like this, impulsive, full of energy, bursting with emotion. 'Of course I love you'. Peter is hurt by being asked three times, but he is gently making up for having denied his love three times. This, to me, is the story of every relationship of love. It is about family, about friends and about God. It is how we are. We love people. We love them with all our hearts, we would jump from a little fishing boat into deep water and wade to the beach to greet them; we would make feasts for them; we laugh with them, we work for them; we cry for them. But, in all that, we sometimes still mess things about, upset the people we adore, betray them, let them down. In the end, it is our little declarations of love, spoken and unspoken that repair the damage we do.
Another thing. In Church today our Priest and Preacher reminded me of the story of The Fiddler on The Roof, a beautiful story of another family working through the love they have for each other. The credit for this blog post belongs to that preacher and teacher: I have stolen it. So, in the Fiddler on the Roof three daughters spurn the idea of an arranged marriage and find partners who truly love them. All these partners, of course, are truly unsuitable in the light of their Father's eyes. Nevertheless, in living through the situation he asks his wife, Golde, the question on his mind, "Do you love me?" Her response is wonderful: you have indigestion; you are a fool! For all these years I have done so much for you, and now you ask, 'Do you love me?' Well, 'I suppose I do.'
Here's the thing. Love undeclared in words is spoken in action. She knows she loves her husband because of what she has given to him: a home, a family, food, comfort, a bed, company, companionship. Love has creeped up on them in its' most natural form: action. It needs no words, but given words, 'after 25 years, it's nice to know'.
Cooking for others is one of the many ways I show that I love those I love. Today we shared a most delicious Sunday Roast. I suppose I think that is what Sundays are for: cleaning the kitchen before Mass and coming home to cook a delicious meal, sharing that meal together and then relaxing through the afternoon. Family, friends and loved ones all coming together to share a meal and each others' company.
In school too, I can see this dynamic in play. Cheeky students sometimes ask, 'Do you love me?'. More often they might declare, in order to get out of trouble, 'But, you know you love me.' Teachers everywhere show the love they have for their students day in and day out, going the extra mile to stay with someone who needs help to grasp something, taking the time to laugh and play with their students, being there to listen to the trials and tribulations of growing up, preparing young adults for the task ahead of them: the life worth living, the life of love.
In conclusion, today I was grateful for this Gospel, and for The Fiddler on the Roof. Thank you to the priest and preacher who brought it to my attention, I plan on wilfully stealing and using it in school. And I hope, more than anything, I will always recognise and thank the people that love me because I will always be grateful for the beautiful tasks they take on for me: teaching, preaching, feeding, clothing, loving, befriending, laughing with and laughing at, looking after, holding, supporting, praying, being. In return, I hope I will always take on and enjoy such work for them.