Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is interesting to note that Saturday’s Gospel Reading (John 21:14-25) is mistranslated. What the Greek actually says is the following:
At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and he 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'm your friend." 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'm friends with you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, are you friends with me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Are you friends with me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I'm friends with you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.”
Peter does not answer the Lord's question, Do you love me? He should have answered, "Ναί, Κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι ἀγαπῶ σε," meaning “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” The Lord asks him twice if Peter loves him, but Peter always responds with the Greek word of friendship, φιλία, (fi•li•a), that he is friends with Christ. In the third question our Lord lowers the expectation of Peter’s heart. Peter is incapable to express the same love as he had before he denied Christ three times in the Courtyard of the High Priest, after Christ had been betrayed (John 18:15-27).
So in the third question, when Christ ask Peter, "Are you friends with me?" Peter realizes the significance of being asked three times and is grieved to repentance by it, this is not a regular conversation but this is essentially akin to the Sacrament of Holy Confession and witnessed by his friend and fellow Apostle St. John the Evangelist the author of this Gospel, he is confessing to the Lord that he denied the Lord three times. Again in Peter’s third response, Lord you know all things to show that he is truly repentant. This is to say that he knows that Christ is God and knows all things, and thus God knows that Peter will never deny Christ his God again—Peter really is truly willing to die for Christ God now as he as had originally stated (Matthew 26:33-35).
And Christ shows that as God who has become Man and Rose from the Dead, He really does know this and all things, tells Peter of the manner that Peter will die. He says, “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 is why a year later, Peter is not shocked when the Angel rescues him from prison after Herod had intended to execute him. Peter knew from the Lord that he would be old when he died. Therefore, this is why Peter exclaimed, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod!” (Acts 12:11). It was not just because the Angel freed him from prison, but because he remembered what the Lord had told him to expect martyrdom in his old age. From what we know from Tradition, this is exactly what eventually happened in Apostle Peter's life.
In the words of Blessed Augustine, “Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power!”
Fr. Simeon Pardalis