Someone once said that in a world where success is the benchmark, the Church is the only place where failure is not only tolerated but allowed.
Certainly this was true of Peter. Just a few weeks before today’s gospel he had denied three times that he knew Jesus. And now, in what seems like a mirror image of his betrayal, Jesus asks him three times if he loves him.
No doubt this probing made Peter feel uncomfortable but it ended with Jesus entrusting the future of his mission to the man who had let him down when it counted.
If we’re honest we have to admit to feeling a little uncomfortable ourselves when others point out our good points. For although we may well be good we are also aware that we have many failings that we don’t like to admit to and wouldn’t want others to know about. We’re a mixture of good and bad, capable of heroism and yet skilled in failure.
Consequently we often find it hard to forgive ourselves and this can lead to our taking a back-seat when it comes to using our talents and proclaiming the gospel. In a nutshell, we feel unworthy and retire into the background.
Today we see Jesus in a practical act of forgiveness. Because he forgave Peter, Peter himself was able to feel loved and valued and was able to forgive himself. Since no one can call themselves praiseworthy in God’s sight it is pointless to absent ourselves from God’s presence under the pretence of unworthiness.
God knows our inmost thoughts and desires. There is nothing we can hide. And yet God never gives up on us even when we are guilty of the most blatant betrayal. No matter how far we wander from God, God never abandons us but calls us back to the table of his love.
Today we see Jesus inviting the man who had denied him to come and have a breakfast of bread and grilled fish. We too have received the same invitation as Peter. For though we are sinners we are invited to the table of the Lord and each time we eat and drink his body and blood our faults and failures are washed away and we are nourished by the very life of God.