John honored Peter's authority, while Peter recognized John's holiness.

Saturday, 1/27/14

Today, in honoring St. John, the Beloved Disciple, we should note the passages where he is contrasted with St. Peter.

First, at the Last Supper, when John was lying against Jesus, Peter instructed him to find out from Jesus who his betrayer would be.

They are contrasted again in today’s Gospel as they ran together to the tomb of Jesus. John ran faster than Peter, but then he waited to let Peter go in first.

Next we see them together when they breakfasted with Jesus by the Lake of Tiberius. Jesus took Peter aside to give him charge over his sheep. Then, when Peter asked what John’s role would be, Jesus answered, “What if I wish him to remain until I come?”

A dozen years ago Father Raymond Brown, whom all Christians recognize as our most knowledgeable scholar on John’s Gospel, gave a lecture on these passages to a packed auditorium in south Florida. He told us that the opposition between Peter and John in these passages reflected the opposition between followers of Peter and John at the end of the first century.

I raised my hand, and then said, “Father, I don’t think the contrast between Peter and John in these passages reflect any opposition between them or their followers. Rather, I think in each of those instances John recognized Peter’s authority, while Peter recognized John’s deep relationship with Jesus.

The lesson for us there is that we must have respect for the authority of Church leaders, while they must have respect for good peoples' possibly closer relationship with the Lord.”

Father Brown, neatly brushing me aside, said, “Well, Father, if you wish to take that pacific view you are welcome to it.”

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