John 21: 20-25
The people involved in the story of Jesus’ resurrection include Mary Magdalen, Simon Peter, ‘the one whom Jesus loved’, the eleven disciples, Thomas, then the seven disciples. Quite a gathering on stage.
Peter plays a prominent part – as does Mary Magdalen. In the final scenario of the gospel story Peter and ‘the beloved disciple’ play their parts.
It is striking that the stories of Jesus appearances after the resurrection are all about his relationships with those to whom he appeared.
“The resurrection” is something that Jesus actually experienced himself, and it was an experience that came from his relationship with the Father. And it was also closely involved all those with whom Jesus had as friends and followers – they shared in that experience by ‘meeting the risen Lord’ and hearing him say: “Peace be with you”.
The “Resurrection” is something that Jesus experienced himself; but that mystery of New Life was also experienced by those who knew him and were close to him.
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is that will betray you?’”
So, the beloved disciple and Peter, the one who betrayed, both experienced their continuing relationship of friendship and intimacy with the Jesus who died on the Cross and who was raised from the dead.
Does this remind us that our relationship with the risen Christ isn’t with a mystical figure who’s experience of new life can only be explained in deep theological language but also experienced in a very personal way by the community of disciples – that’s us, the Church.
Sometimes we might be like ‘the beloved disciple’, sometimes like Peter the betrayer. Neither situation in life prevents being invited into the friendship of the Risen Lord.
Tony Egar CP is a Passionist Priest that lives at St.Paul’s Retreat Glen Osmond, SA.