The only mandate that matters: ‘You follow me’

Some of the most potent passages of scripture are also the pithiest.

“Thy will be done.”

“Go and do likewise.”

“Love one another.”

And here, in this Gospel, we encounter another:

“You follow me.”

It’s not just the brevity that packs a punch—it’s the declarative force of it. Coming as it does in the final part of St. John’s Gospel, it offers us one last command. This is all that matters.

The context is specific—but universal. Peter speculates aloud about what will become of “the beloved disciple” after Christ’s earthly ministry ends. And Jesus will have none of it.

“What concern is it of yours?,” he says. “You follow me.”

How much we can learn from that brief, biting exchange. Worry about your own fate, Jesus says. Mind your own business. That is enough.

When we find ourselves consumed with curiosity about others, or wonder about someone’s soul, or idly speculate about arcane bits of gossip, Christ’s words come back to us.

Our job as disciples of the Lord is so clear, so uncomplicated. Jesus sums it up in just three words:

“You follow me.”

This is our mandate. All the rest is distraction and noise. The questions we need to be asking are so fundamental: how can we live as Christ has called us? How can we be his face to the world? How can we reflect his love in action?

In short: how can each one of us work out our own salvation?

This passage suggests a way—The Way—a path as sure and as clear today as it was 20 centuries ago. It lies in focusing not on those around us, but on The One who is before us, who speaks to us with clarity, conviction and love.

“You follow me.”

What more do we need to know?

This reflection originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of  Give Us This Day, published by Liturgical Press.

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