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Easter Reflections from Fr Denis McBride

2015-04-01 08:27

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In the Gospel of John there is the story of the Easter Sunday race. On hearing the message of Mary Magdalene, Peter and the Beloved Disciple run to the tomb to check out her story that the Lord has been taken away. You watch a race between the figure of authority, Peter, and the figure of love, the unnamed Beloved Disciple. Although they set out together, the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reaches the tomb first. This is not because he is younger and fitter than Peter: it is because the urgency of love always gets you there first.

“Simon Peter who was following now came up.” The figure of authority, who follows the figure of love, eventually makes it to the tomb. The figure of love kindly waits for authority to catch up, allowing Peter to enter the tomb first. When Peter goes in he sees only linen cloths abandoned on the floor of the tomb. There is only a large unexplained absence. When the Beloved Disciple enters the tomb, “he saw and he believed.”

Love sees in the dark what others cannot see – even authority figures.

The primacy of love in the Gospel of John is illustrated in Jesus’ mandate: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you.  By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) The Beloved Disciple epitomises this love; his name embodies the fulfilment of Jesus’ new commandment. 

Jesus will later question the figure of authority: “Do you love me more than these others do?” There is no need to question the Beloved Disciple. Peter, the figure of authority, is now challenged to become the figure of love. Out of that love Peter is commissioned to feed the flock of Jesus. In Christian discipleship authority without love is simply career. It is the love of Jesus which will give Peter and all of us the true direction for mission.

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