Today’s New Testament reading from the daily lectionary, Acts 12:1-17:
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Remember after the Resurrection, when Jesus revealed Peter’s fate to him? Peter replied regarding John, “But Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21). Peter was concerned that his own life would be taken from him forcibly, but John’s might not.
Do you see the irony in this? Peter asked about John – who lived – but ignored John’s brother James, who was killed with the sword long before Peter.
Why was James put to death, and Peter rescued from prison? And why was John saved to die a natural death, and Peter later suffered martyrdom?
Jesus’ response on the beach shows the answer: “If I will that he … what is that to you?“(John 21:22). If God desires someone else’s story to end in a different manner than yours, or their life to be easier/harder, longer/shorter, less/more painful … why should that concern you?
We are all of equal value in God’s eyes, but that does not mean our experiences will be identical. You are not called to live my life, nor am I called to live yours. What we both know is this: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48).
If you wish to receive the “much more” from God, then you must also accept the greater burden and responsibility.
Word of God: speak!
Non nobis Domine+
by Fr. Dana Jackson