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Zac DavisMay 07, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

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.” (Jn 21:21-22)

This chapter in John’s Gospel is the last one, but it also reads like a secondary ending. At the end of the Doubting Thomas resurrection appearance recounted in John 20, we get a nice bow on the narrative:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. (Jn 20:30-31)

The footnotes on the USCCB’s website even say, “These verses are clearly a conclusion to the gospel.”

Yet we get one more chapter, one more resurrection story. And it is a lovely one. Scholars generally agree that John 21 was added after the rest of the Gospel, but it was important enough to include in the final text to the early Christian community. Independent of the historical-critical research, I like to think of this secondary ending like the extra story a child receives at bedtime after begging their parent, “Please, one more!” We don’t hear the meat of the story in today’s selection from the lectionary, which only gives us the very end, but it is when Jesus surprises the disciples back at the Sea of Galilee with a beachside fish breakfast.

At breakfast, Peter has just been rehabilitated by Jesus (“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”... “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (Jn 21:15)), when he suddenly notices the beloved disciple following them, and asks Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”

Peter, most relatable of the disciples, is at it again. How many times have I muttered under my breath to my parents, spouse, boss, God: What about them? When looking at problems in the church, how easy is it to look around the pews, or in the news, and find someone to blame?

It’s not clear that Peter is looking to blame the beloved disciple. Nonetheless, Jesus’ reply is one we all need to hear from time to time: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Christianity is anything but an individualistic religion. And given that humans are social creatures whose greatest achievements and failures are social in nature, it is natural to show concern for the conduct and fate of other people. It’s also true that we can use that concern as a shield from looking at our own behaviors.

You follow me.

Perhaps today is a good opportunity to check in with the Lord and ask how we’ve been doing at just that.

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