Focus on the Mission

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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.


Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for Peter. He teaches us so much about how you work with human nature. Help me to be open and honest in my prayer today.


Encountering Christ:

  1. Peter turned…?: The Gospel opens with the phrase “Peter turned…” Jesus had just intimated that Peter would die on a cross, and commanded him to, “Follow me.” Instead of responding to Jesus with “fiat,” or even “I’m frightened,” Peter turned and inquired about John. Little children do this sometimes. They ignore a direct command as if they didn’t hear it, and they busy themselves with the nearest distraction. When God asks more of us than we are willing to give, we sometimes turn away too. Fortunately, we know that Peter, who seemed more interested in John’s fate than in following Jesus at that moment, went on to grow in grace enough to lead the Church and become a saint. We draw consolation from Peter’s example as we hope to become saints one day ourselves.
  2. What Concern Is It of Yours?: Our Lord rebuked Peter, reminding him (and us) to stay focused on the mission. “You, follow me,” Jesus said. Why did Peter ask, “What about him?” Was Peter envious of John? Concerned for John, that he might also face crucifixion? Overwhelmed by Jesus’s revelation and out of sorts? Regardless of his motive, Peter earned a reprimand. Considering the ugliness of sin, Our Lord’s reprimands can be exceedingly gentle. They can come in the form of a spouse’s well-intentioned criticism, a friends’ fraternal correction, a chiding by a spiritual guide with our best interests at heart, or an inspired confessor. Knowing, as we do, that these comments are grounded in the love of Christ, we humble ourselves, thank Our Lord for his wisdom, make the correction, and refocus on the mission. 
  3. Jesus Did so Many Things: John tells us that all the books in the world could not have contained Our Lord’s actions. That was true in his lifetime, but even more true today, as Christ acts in a multitude of ways in everyone’s life every day, every hour. Among his most profound acts is the transubstantiation that happens at every Mass throughout the world around the clock. His presence through the sacraments sanctifies souls continually. And he acts among nonbelievers in the good they do and the love they share. Even in those spiritually dead, Jesus is entombed. “He remains in all those who are tempted: in those who are in mortal sin, he is in the tomb. We should never come to a sinner without the reverence we would take to the Holy Sepulchre.” – Caryll Houselander


Conversing with Christ: Lord, you seem to be reminding me to keep my eyes on you in these Gospel verses. I get frightened, overwhelmed, and easily distracted from my everyday mission— to love those you put in my path. Please let me know when I’ve stepped out of line. I want to do your will, but I’m weak. Come Holy Spirit!


Resolution: Lord, today by our grace I will do a thorough examination of conscience to see where I can reorient my thoughts and actions toward you.


For Further Reflection: “God abides in men,” The Flowering Tree, Caryll Houselander 


“God abides in men,/ These are men who are simple,/ they are fields of corn…/ Such men have minds/ like wide grey skies,/ they have the grandeur/ that the fools call emptiness./ God abides in men./ Some men are not simple,/ they live in cities/ among the teeming buildings,/ wrestling with forces/ as strong as the sun and the rain./ Often they must forgo dream upon dream…/ Christ walks in the wilderness/ in such lives./ God abides in men,/ because Christ has put on/ the nature of man,/ like a garment, and worn it to his own shape./ He has put on everyone’s life…/ to the workman’s clothes to the King’s red robes,/ to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment…/ Christ has put on Man’s nature,/ and given him back his humanness…/ God abides in man.”


Written by Maribeth Harper

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