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?"
The twenty-first chapter of Saint John's Gospel was clearly written by someone other than the original author, and was added later. Today's passage addresses one of the perplexing problems of the early church; a problem spawned by the Gospel but not addressed by it. The author and editor(s) would clear it up with the same terse dispatch characteristic of the great Evangelist.
It seems a silly misunderstanding has persisted: "Isn't the 'beloved disciple" supposed to survive until the second coming?" We call him "John;" tradition says he was the youngest, survived the longest of the twelve, and did not die a martyr. Leonardo da Vinci portrayed him as a youth with no beard. Because he took Jesus' mother "into his own home," he was also known as a virgin, a fitting companion to an older woman.
People always have more questions than there are answers, and a great many of those questions are entirely irrelevant, as are their answers. The question of "Saint John" was especially tiresome -- or so it would seem -- so much so that it earned a place at the end of the gospel.
Yes, Virginia, contrary to what you were told in religion class, there are stupid questions.
"What concern is it of yours? You follow me!" Jesus told Peter, his disciples, you and me.
The Gospel of John is deep, mysterious and often perplexing. I have watched in horror as some priests read a passage during the Mass, closed the lectionary, and preached about something else entirely. They couldn't be bothered to study and ponder the Gospel, and then speak to the congregation of these deeper mysteries. At least one declared, "I don't understand a word of this!"
We study the Gospel to learn what should concern each one of us?
Some people might suppose my homily blog has no political agenda. It does. It may not be partisan, but I believe the mystery of the Holy Trinity -- the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit -- is hugely relevant to our time. Those who speak of "God" without reference to the Trinity overlook the Humility of God. They worship a mistaken image of God, one that is embellished with Power. They suppose that might makes right; perhaps they believe that right makes might. In either case, the agenda is power.
"You follow me!" Jesus told Peter, who died as the Master died, a martyr, powerless. Just as Jesus followed the Holy Spirit from Galilee to Jerusalem, neither looking back, nor to left or right, so do we follow him through these troubled times to Easter.