Saint for the day: Charles Lwanga and companions. (d. 1885 – 1887)
Acts 28: 16-20, 30-31 – Psalm 11 – John 21:20-25
“Jesus said, ‘What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?’” (John 21:22)
These words, quoted above from today’s Holy Gospel indicate a common concern of people of all times: we want to know the whole story and see the plan clearly laid out. Give us the answers to all our questions right now. And to all those concerns Jesus simply says, “YOU follow me!”
These words follow pretty sequentially what we’ve been hearing in these days from the “Priestly Pray of Jesus” in John’s Gospel. To pick up on the theme of yesterday’s Holy Gospel, we know that this “following” of Jesus is meant to be a progressive following. We don’t say, “yes” and let it go at that but we say that “yes” that draws us more deeply into the love that Jesus has for us which is a love that begins with Jesus asking us if we love Him as “friends” – using the Greek word, ‘”Philip.” But we must progress to the “agape” level of being willing to lay down our lives. We need to remember that Jesus never promised us that we would never die but that we would gain eternal life in the Kingdom. I always like to remind people that even Lazarus who was raised from the dead after being in the grave for four day didn’t live forever! All the miracles that Jesus performed were just a means to an end and not the end in them. That’s why a “prosperity Gospel preaching” is so far off the mark. When Jesus speaks about “the Hundred Fold” He’s not talking in terms of monetary gain. He’s talking about the Kingdom. It should be encouraging for us to realize that even the disciples who were so close to Jesus had to struggle getting the essence of what it meant to follow Him. To all the other questions that they – and all of us might – have, Jesus simply said, “What concern is it of yours?”
And with that we’re right back to the basic, “You follow me!” To this end, I like to use an image of us trying to keep up with Jesus. It’s like He’s in a speedboat and what we need to do is get close enough that we can easily travel in His “wake,” pulled along by the power of His love. Sure, there’s a little bouncing around but we’ll have a net gain in the end – staying close to Jesus on the way to the Kingdom. Don’t ask me where I came up with this concept but I think it might help us better understand the concept of “follow me” that Jesus desires of us all. And we might be able to grasp it a little more completely realizing that in yesterday’s Holy Gospel, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me” – as you would a friend (using the Greek word, “Phleos”) but ultimately drawing us closer and closer so that we are willing to go to the next level “Do you love me” in the lay-down-your-life kind of love –here He uses another Greek word – ”agapen” (or agape)?
I hope you can see – in both today’s and yesterday’s Holy Gospel that Jesus is not pushy. He’s leading us ever more deeply to that point where we can honestly love Him in that Agapen type love. Amen?