1st Reading: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or our ancestral customs, I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem. After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me, because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty. But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation. This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear these chains.” He remained for two full years in his lodgings. He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel: 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.
Follow me? Peter turned, moving away from the holy commandment which has been handed down – feeding the sheep/lambs (cf. Jn 21:15-17). This is worse than never having learned to know the right way at all. Following Jesus costs a lot even to the point of losing our earthly life. Peter’s death was a proof of the higher form of love that Christ was asking in Jn 21:15-19, for through greater love one can lay down his life for others (cf. Jn 15:13). Peter had denied the Lord and followed his own counsel but now he is re-called to follow in a very emphatic way. Peter is called to focus on this following with absolute obedience, regardless of the specific forms of obedience others must pursue (cf. 1 Cor 4:2–7). This is the obedience in following Christ especially after the Easter event, which shows us the clear consequences of following Christ; a reality for every believer.
Prayer: Jesus, give me the grace to imitate you faithfully (St Anthony Mary Claret). Amen.
WHEN PAUL ENTERED ROME…During this whole Easter season, the first reading has been from the Acts of the Apostles. In the first reading of today, we have heard the last lines of the Acts of the Apostles. It is important to note that the Acts ends in Rome. In the Gospel of Luke, the good news is proclaimed for the first time in Nazareth (Lk 4:16) – a little village. Between chapters 4 and 9, Jesus ministers in Galilee in the North. In Lk 9:51, Jesus begins his journey towards Jerusalem. From chapter 10 to 19, Jesus is on the way. The final segment of the gospel ends in Jerusalem – the capital of the Jewish world. On the other hand, the Acts of the Apostles begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome – the capital of the world at that time. The great plan of God! We are part of that plan.
Prayer: Lord, for all that has been, Thank you. To all that will be, Yes!
RESPECT THE TRADITION: Before books of history were written, information was being transferred by word of mouth from one person or generation to another. Even the Scriptures had a history of oral tradition. There is no claim that the Scriptures contain all that Jesus taught and did. The apostle John clarifies this in the last verses of his Gospel (Jn. 21:25). In this sense the Magisterium of the Church also is helpful in nourishing faith. Thus, the Catholic Church has three sources of her teachings: the Scriptures, Tradition and the Magisterium. As Catholics, we are called upon not to be misled by those who interpret the Bible in the narrow sense and not careful about the truth beyond.
MINDING OUR CONCERNS: This final discourse of the gospel agrees that it was the practice of Jesus to turn aside questions that were not pertinent or that only reflected curiosity. In Luke 13:23ff, in answer to a question about the number of the saved, Jesus replies by stressing the difficulty of salvation. In this passage, Peter is told that the death of the beloved disciple is none of his concern. Jesus neither affirms nor denies the possibility to satisfy Peter’s curiosity when he says “suppose I would like him to remain until I come.” This answer leaves the disciples speculating that the beloved disciple would not die. Did Jesus say this? Whether the beloved would die or not, how was it a concern to the others? From time to time, we have been part of plots to falsely accuse, or have been victims of false accusations. Gossip and false information are destructive to the Body of Christ.