“Kids”

One word in today’s Gospel, the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus at the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 1-19), struck me.

“Children.”

Jesus addresses the seven apostles who have gone back fishing as children.

I checked numerous translations of the Greek παιδία – children. Almost all the English translations render this as “children” though the Jerusalem Bible uses “friends,” and the French La Bible de Jérusalem uses “les enfants.

Two Spanish translations use “muchachos,” which also means children, though I hear it more often used in Honduras for young people, “guys.” A friend said he translates “muchachos” as “boys.”

But the most intriguing translation is from Msgr. Knox: “lads” – so very British.

Jesus is calling his disciples “kids.”

Are we like kids in our relationship with Jesus, going about our daily tasks, not thinking about him, intent on what we want to do, unaware of his presence and unable to recognize him?

Peter has to face this directly when Jesus questions him.

“Do you love me [ἀγαπᾶς με]more than these?” asks Jesus. And twice Peter responds, “You know Lord, that I’m your friend [φιλῶ σε].”

Then Jesus asks him, “Are you my friend?” Peter, exasperated, answers, “Yes Lord, you know that.”

At the end of the scene, Jesus invites Peter: “Follow me.”

Don’t follow your old occupation, but follow in my path, my way that brings life – even though you will suffer.

I love you as a parent loves her children, but I want more from you. I want your wholehearted love, the love of agape which comes from following me – even to the Cross. For having passed through death on the Cross, the Lord Jesus offers us the risen life.

Yes, in many ways we are kids in our faith; but Jesus wants us to be more, to have a fuller life.

A fuller life comes from willing to let ourselves be led by Jesus – wherever that may lead us. It led Peter to a Cross and only God knows where it will lead us.


Slightly revised at 5:30 pm.

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