Saturday of Seventh Week of Easter

Lectionary: 302

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?”

A lot of theological speculation, the kind you hear in quick conversations with strangers or tiresome conversation with friends, might be dismissed with Jesus’ last word in the fourth gospel, “What concern is it of yours?” Especially speculation about the fate of others, which falls under the broad headings of gossip and judgment, is wasted time and energy.
The AA program has a useful slogan for that, “Take your own inventory!” That refers to the fourth step of twelve in which the recovering alcoholic takes an inventory of his “character defects.” This is a terrifying process, and it would be overwhelming except that God reveals to each of us only as many of our defects as we can endure. If I saw them all in a glance I’d be seared like a charred strip of bacon.
Often, rather than take my own inventory, I take that of others. That's a lot more fun and not half as painful. Peter seems to be doing that when he asks Jesus about John’s fate. He is effectively told, “MYOB!”
The ancient controversy between Calvinists and Arminians about election and double-election boils down to that. They want to know how God decides who is saved and who is not. Is there any way we can tell who God loves? Are the healthy, wealthy, secure and better educated more loved than the rest of people? Is their comfort in this world a sign of God’s election? They appear to be!
Jesus says, “What concern is it of yours? You follow me!”
But this is also an agonizing question for parents and grandparents who have poured their lives into their children and, watched them make dreadful decisions despite all their training. Can my daughter be saved? Can my grandson be forgiven?
They are left on the cross of uncertainty, of prayer and hope and apparent futility. As their priest and friend I urge them to stay there on the cross of prayerful unknowing. As Jesus hung upon the cross, from that high place, he could see every problem on earth. Had he come down off it to try to manage all those problems personally, he would have failed to save us.
As we witness men and women wasting their lives in sinful, stupid and futile behavior we again hear Jesus’ command, “You follow me!” If we would make a difference in the lives of others, the only way is the narrow gate and the straitened path.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.