Encouragement on the Way

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Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

 

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?”

 It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

 

Encountering Christ:

 

  1. What about Him: “Peter turned and saw the disciple” and he compared himself to John. He asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Why are we always concerned about what the other person receives, and whether or not we receive what we think we deserve from God? Peter and John were friends, and their friendship was built on their relationship with Christ. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2). Peter might not have been jealous of John’s relationship with Christ, but he wanted to know what John’s path of discipleship would be. Sometimes a person becomes so familiar to us, we think we know who they are, and we judge them. Peter “saw” the disciple, and he thought he knew him. As Mother Mary Francis, PCC, says in But I Have Called You Friends, friendship begins with respect, which comes from the Latin roots “to look again” (14), but often we fail to truly see them for who they are. “The trouble is that we think we know people, and we really don’t know them at all. So we must look again and again and then again and gradually we shall get to know these people…we shall never completely understand another person. This is part of the wonder of Christ” (15-16).
  2. You Follow Me: John’s path of discipleship would be different than Peter’s. “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” Why do some seem to have an easier path than others? The story of the soul who wanted to trade in his cross for a lighter one is a good reminder. No sooner had his guardian angel taken him to the place with crosses, he saw giant tree limbs, huge iron bars, and then he found a light cross made of a couple of twigs. “I’ll take this one!” he cried. His guardian angel replied, “This is the cross you already carry.” Our cross is tailor-made to fit our shoulders, and we have to trust that God knows what he is doing. This boring desk job, the teenager who won’t answer when I ask about her day, the wife who stares at her Instagram, the husband who works late, the disease that is slowly progressing—these crosses are given lovingly by Our Lord who gives us the grace to embrace them, carry them, grow into them. 
  3. His Testimony Is True: John asserted the truth at the end of his Gospel. He bore witness to Christ by his word and by his life. Truth can often be a fuzzy notion. When a wife asks her husband if her jeans are flattering, the best answer is always “Yes.” But Jesus is more concerned about our hearts, and if we are being faithful to ourselves and the truth that is in us. He has given us a mission and every one is different. He called most of the Apostles to martyrdom but John lived out his life on the island of Patmos, where he composed the Book of Revelation. They were all faithful to Christ’s call to testify to the truth until the end of their days on earth.

 

Conversing with Christ: Lord, you know I sometimes fail to love those closest to me, those I live with, and those in my own family. Help me to be a voice of encouragement to those around me.

 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will support someone who is struggling to live his or her vocation by sending them a note or giving a word of encouragement.

 

For Further Reflection: Read “Fighting the Urge to Compare Yourself to Others,” Catholic Digest, March 5, 2018.

 

Leah Nguyen, mom to six children ranging in age from nine to twenty-four, resides in Kansas City with her deacon husband. She graduated with a master’s degree in theology from Holy Apostles College in 2019, which helps her lead Bible studies in her parish as well as defend the Catholic faith when talking with her teenagers.

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