After him….

6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. [1] Jn 20:6-7

What strikes me about this verse are (a) Peter’s actions and (b) the detail about the cloths: the head cloth and the burial cloths.

Peter arrives after John.  The word translated as “arrived”, ἔρχομαι, means[2]

1)    to come…of persons

  • to come from one place to another, and used both of  persons                                 arriving and of those returning
  • to appear, make one’s appearance, come before the public

2)    metaphorically

  • to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find  place or                              influence
  • be established, become known, to come (fall) into or unto
  • to go, to follow one

While the literal meaning is denoted, the metaphorical meaning is often used today when a person comes into prominence, i.e. they’ve “arrived,” is somewhat overlooked….the magisterial Church is established as the one who witnesses the resurrection. Note also that both of the other connotations are applicable. The magisterial Church is made known by the resurrection and the magisterial church follows the direction and path forged by the mystic.

What is translated here as “after him” is, in the Greek, ἀκολουθῶν αὐτῷ, has nuances not conveyed by “after,”

  1. to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him;
  2. to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple;
  3. side with his party.

The Greek is literally means: “walking the same road”.  So, again, note the deference of the late comer to the one who precedes him; the latter is observed to “join him as his attendant…become his disciple.”  Again, the absorption by the Magisterium of the reality arrived at by the mystic.

he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there. Peter is a man of action, sometimes unconsidered and impetuous action, but action, nonetheless.  He is forthright, outspoken, states his mind, sometimes without much forethought.  He is inquisitive, even when it gets him in hot water, such as in the temple courtyard during Jesus trial.  He is also not as brave as he would like to think himself to be and is carried by the tides of public opinion, both in the courtyard and even later, after Pentecost, when he back-peddles and panders to the Judaizers [Gal 2:12].  Such is the vagaries manifested by the human face of the Church.  Jesus is fully aware of his faults but stand behind him: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” [Lk 22:31-32] And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. [Mt 16:18]  The Rock stands firm, regardless of its faults.

Τὰ ὀθόνια κείμενα, the lying linen cloths; τὸ σουδάριον, the handkerchief, the face cloth.  These are described not just as being seen as a group, but the position and the manner of disposition of each is meticulously described.  For John, this was important.

But note that all John has seen thus far has been from the low doorway.  It is Peter who goes in and it is as if he, Peter, is the one who surveys the situation and notes the details.  All we know about John, thus far, is that he “saw the burial clothes but did not go in.”

Allegorically speaking, the official head of the Church is the one to define the details, to be very specific, while for the mystic, the general picture suffices.

Lord, thank you for both the Magisterium and for mysticism, for dogma and contemplation, for all the aspects that make up the Church, Your Body here on earth.  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.



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