The Gospel according to John (20:1-8)
On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
In looking at today’s Gospel, I thought of a couple of different things to focus on. Today, we celebrate the feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, whom tradition tells us was the writer of the fourth Gospel.
The first thing is to point out that John’s Gospel account is very different from the other three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Those three are called the “Synoptic” Gospels, as they contain many of the same stories, even though they were written for very distinct audiences. John, on the other hand, focuses on presenting Jesus’ divinity, and he demonstrates this from the “signs” that he records. The Apostle John was likely a teenager when he became a follower of Jesus (it’s one of the reasons that he lived the longest of the Twelve, dying around the end of the first century, maybe 70 years after Jesus’ death).
The other thing about John’s Gospel account is the presence of the “beloved disciple” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Scripture scholars say that John is referring to himself when we see the mention of the “beloved disciple” as we do in today’s story. All scholars don’t agree on that (but when do scholars ever agree?).
However, John writes his Gospel in such a way that the “beloved disciple” could be considered to be any follower of Jesus, from that time, all the way down to our own day. We see this in the account of the crucifixion, where Jesus gives His Mother to the “beloved disciple”, saying “behold your mother”. In our Catholic tradition we say that’s one reason that we consider the Blessed Virgin Mary to be *our* Mother, because Jesus gave her to us. It’s a great point to ponder.
The last point I’ll make is the reaction of the “beloved disciple” (John) – the Gospel records that “he saw and believed”. It’s quite amazing, really – John did not see Jesus in the flesh – he just saw the empty tomb. But, that was enough for him to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead. It’s a remarkable example of faith, and is one that all of us even today should consider. Do we believe in Jesus, but only when our prayers are answered in a way that we like? Or, do we trust and believe, even if our prayers seem not to have the results we prefer? May each of us be like John and simply “see and believe”.
Action for the Day:
Take time today and ask God to give you the faith to just “see and believe”. Perhaps one way to do that is to spend time quietly before God, just listening for His words to us. If you don’t hear them, pause a little while longer – God does have something He wishes for you to hear today!
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!