|"Feed My Lambs" - James Tissot|
TO CHEW ON: "Then Peter seeing him (...the disciple whom Jesus loved following...) said to Jesus, 'But Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.'" John 21:21,22
There is much discussion amongst Bible interpreters about why Peter asked the question, referring to John, "Lord, what about this man?" Was he genuinely curious? Did he feel that John, trailing behind Jesus and him should be included in the conversation? Or perhaps he wanted reassurance that John would be joining him in the assignment Jesus had just given him (Peter) to feed Jesus' sheep and lambs (i.e. the shepherd the flock of believing people).
But Jesus' answer is not ambiguous. He says, in effect, it's not your business. "You follow me."
This speaks to me about my own tendency to compare myself—my talents, my calling, my life, the results of my work—to others. In the light of Jesus' words here, I shouldn't. Rather, I need to follow His direction and leading, and leave off comparing my strengths and weaknesses, my opportunities or lack of them, my apparent successes and failures with your strengths, opportunities, and successes. For He says to each one of us: "What is that to you? You follow Me."
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, the urge to compare (leading to envy, discontent, and insecurity) tempts me often. Help me to be alert to Your direction, to follow, and to stay unconcerned with how my calling looks in relation to the calling of others. Amen.
MORE: Peter's end
As it turned out, Peter's and John's ends were quite different. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified. Clarke's commentary says, "...all antiquity agrees that John ... was the only disciple who was taken away by natural death" - Clarke's Commentary.
You and I could go insane by trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of our various destinies. How much better for us to simply follow Him and leave off concerning ourselves with why our paths are different.
Today is the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The liturgy for the day begins with the following collect:
"Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."