What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. - St James
Gospel Text: (JN 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.
How easy it can be to let speculation about other people’s paths distract us from Jesus’ plan for us! We may wonder why another person seems to enjoy singular blessings or why someone else has to endure so many hardships and roadblocks on the way of holiness. But whether our uneasy reflections are tinged with relief or envy, they can hold us back from making progress in our spiritual life.
“Lord, why did they put him in charge of that committee when I have so much more expertise?” “Why did she win the lottery?” “Why are my children the only ones who have dropped out of school and wrecked their marriages?” “Why was my husband’s cancer detected so early and cured so easily, while this woman has had to suffer one futile treatment after another?” The questions can go on and on.
But each time we let this happen, Jesus seeks to redirect our attention, just as he did for Peter. He assures us that he is dealing with each individual according to his own wisdom and plan. Then he tells us the only thing we really need to hear: “Follow me.” Everything else is secondary. For when we follow Jesus, we find answers to many of our other questions and concerns. As for those that remain unanswered, we learn the art of trust and surrender.
In today’s Gospel, for instance, Peter asked Jesus about the fate of John, his fellow apostle. But Jesus responded by telling him that what would happen to John was Jesus’ business, not Peter’s. Peter simply needed to follow the Lord. Of course Jesus wants us to be concerned about our families, our friends, and the needy among us. Yes, he wants us to be concerned about each other’s future. But the basis for our concern should be their welfare, not curiosity or jealousy.
Every life has its own path, with its own particular twists and turns. Jesus wants us to face these twists with confidence, courage, and trust. He doesn’t always let us in on all that lies ahead, and he doesn’t always tell us his plans for the other people in our lives. But he does assure us that he will be with us every step of the way.