Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved
Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.
There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.
Reflection on the painting
Today’s Gospel reading follows from yesterday’s where we heard that Jesus instructed Peter to feed the lambs and sheep. Peter received a clear mission in yesterday’s reading. Now today, we hear how Peter then questioned Jesus about the beloved disciple, ‘What about him, Lord?’. Peter knew that John was especially loved by Jesus, so maybe Peter just wondered what plans Jesus had for John. Maybe Peter was even a bit jealous of John, thinking that maybe John would be given even a more important role than the one Peter just received? But Jesus is clear in his answer that he has a separate mission for each of them. Each had their unique calling and vocation.
Remember, today’s reading is the last interaction Jesus has with his disciples in John’s Gospel. So John makes clear in our exchange between Peter and Jesus that we each have our own mission. We should not be jealous if someone is more talented, more gifted or more successful. If all is done for the glory of God, that is what matters. To me it seems that Jesus here wants to tackle jealousy. In his last words to his disciples in John’s Gospel Jesus prompts us to learn how to manage emotions of jealousy, or else they will begin to manage us. Jealousy comes from counting other peoples’ blessings, rather than our own!
Our painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch titled Jealousy, shows the other side of love. The relationship between the three figures seems complicated. Even the messy brushstrokes convey a certain darkness and disunity. We see two men and a woman, and understand straight away that this is all about jealousy. The woman with blushing red cheeks is between the two men. One is looking down and the other is looking straight at us. He is painted with greenish skin tonalities. The colour green, which we often associate with jealousy (‘green with envy’), is also the complementary colour to red, the colour of love.
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