JN 21:20-25 A Prelude to Pentecost
Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter
By: Jennifer Burgin
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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.”
Today marks a transition point in the liturgical calendar. This is the last weekend of the Easter Season as we prepare for the celebration of Pentecost Sunday. Next week we return to Ordinary time as the scripture passages refocus on Jesus’ public ministry.
As we close our celebration, Saint Augustine reminds us of the meaning of Easter: “The season before Easter signified troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate after Easter points to something we do not yet possess….now the fast is over and we devote the present season to praise.”
What concern is it of yours? Have you ever known someone who attempted to meddle in your affairs? Perhaps a friend, a co-worker or a family member? We may feel uncomfortable telling anyone our plans much less explain why. The same goes with Our Lord. When Peter questions him about the fate of the beloved disciple, and if he will live or die before the parousia (Second Coming), Jesus’ answer is frankly none of your business.
We may feel hate and resentment toward meddlesome people: the knick pickers, the naysayers, the judgmental folks, and those who question us non-stop. If it comes to a person’s safety and welfare, then yes, it is important to get into their business. However, many times people only want to hear the latest gossip. Their “concern” is not heartfelt.
Compassionate concern I just finished reading the riveting memoir titled No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s Long Journey Home from the Iraq War. Dr. Lee Warren, a now retired U.S. Air Force military neurosurgeon, spent 4 months in 2005 serving in a tent hospital on Balad Air Base. Every day he experienced mortar attacks and bombings. He witnessed horrific injuries and mass casualties. His medical training taught him to help all the injured, regardless if an American soldier, Iraqi civilian or Al Qaeda terrorist. The idea of love the enemy hit very hard. Why should he be concerned about keeping the enemy alive? It’s hard to imagine limited blood supplies, surgical instruments, and medical staff saving the life of a terrorist so filled with hate and jealousy toward America.
In an email letter sent to his family and friends, Major Warren wrote:
“I understand the sensitivities of church and state and all that, I really do. But don’t you think that our Founding Father’s ethics and belief systems have something to do with the fact that 230 years later we are still the kindest and most compassionate nation on earth, even to people who are trying to kill us?”
Major Warren often turned to prayer in a resilient effort to find peace amidst fear, sadness, and tragedy of war. He worried about his own life. Would he survive to see his children again? Would the nightmares ever stop? A military chaplain gave him some valuable advice: Pray more, worry less, and let God do the rest.
Follow the Lord The first and second readings link the ministries of Peter and Paul in a meaningful way. Both Apostles followed the Lord knowing all too well the job would be difficult, even dangerous at times. Paul remained chained in prison for two years but still welcomed those who wanted to hear the message of God’s Kingdom. Not even imprisonment stopped him from spreading the Truth of Jesus Christ.
We can follow the Lord with the same zeal as the early apostles. We have the benefit of the Holy Spirit to ignite the flame of Christ’s love within us. Furthermore, we have the whole body of the Church as our fortress, our shield, and our centralizing force. The Church may be in a constant battle with those who think her ways are archaic, fighting wars against the culture of death and religious persecution. However, the Church will never back down and never give up!
The following lyrics from Peter, Paul & Mary’s song
River Jordan resonate a special meaning as we prepare for Pentecost:
“I wanted to know if life had a purpose
And what it all means in the end
In the silence I listened to voices inside me
And they told me again and again
There is only one river, there is only one sea
And it flows through you, and it flows through me
There is only one people, we are one and the same
We are all one spirit, we are all one name
We are the father, mother, daughter and son
From the dawn of creation, we are one, we are one, we are one.”
We are all one blood, one body in Christ. Be compassionately concerned for one another. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform each of us into passionate evangelizers of the faith. Follow Our Lord and never forget Christ’s infinite love for all of humanity.
Come, Holy Spirit, and dwell inside our hearts. Amen.
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a convert to Catholicism and active in liturgical ministry at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson, TX. Please follow her blog: Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality. (0)