Why are we humans so prone to compare ourselves to other people? We compare ourselves to others in so many areas, including physical appearance, the size and luxury of our homes and cars, intelligence, education, and spirituality. Come to think of it, we are always tempted to compare ourselves to others in just about every area of our lives. When we compare ourselves favorably to others we feel good about ourselves. When we compare ourselves unfavorably to others we feel defeated, depressed and disappointed. Even St. Peter struggled with comparing himself to someone else.
In John 21:18-21 there is this remarkable conversation between Jesus and Peter in which Jesus informs Peter that the latter will be crucified (“stretch out your hands”) and led to a place Peter would “not want to go.” In other words, Peter is told that following Jesus will mean persecution and martyrdom. But Peter has just affirmed his love for Christ three times and can’t back out of following Jesus now. But this doesn’t stop him from comparing himself to someone else, namely John.
After Peter’s future is revealed by Jesus, the fisherman turned apostle asks about the Apostle John, “Lord, what about him?” Peter was hoping, I think, that Jesus’ plan for John was not more appealing than his plan for Peter-martyrdom is not all that appealing, afterall. Peter was comparing himself to John, and Jesus has a bit of fun toying with Peter, saying “if I want John to remain around until I return, what do you care?”. Then, Jesus gets to the point with Peter saying, “you follow me.” What Jesus is saying to Peter is “stop worrying about what others are doing and just concern yourself with following me.”
So, let’s stop comparing ourselves to others, worrying about what others are doing or not doing, focusing on whether or not others are following Jesus, and let’s simply take up our own cross and follow Jesus, without looking back or around to see what others are doing. The next time we're tempted to compare ourselves to others, let's listen for Jesus speaking to our hearts, "YOU FOLLOW ME."