Peter was, at all events, specially marked out from among the twelve, by being the first witness to Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:5; Lk. 24:34); as the first of the Easter witnesses, he may be regarded as the Rock of the Church.
– Hans Kung (Church) p. 456
The readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time cycle B (John 1:35-42) can be found here.
Scripture scholars will tell you that our Gospel reading comes from the first section of the Book of Signs where Jesus begins his public ministry by gathering disciples. Baptizing John completes his role as witness to the Messiah by declaring Jesus to be the Lamb of God and releasing his disciples to Jesus.
“We have found the Messiah.” The focal point for our homily today is the confession of Andrew and the summons to conversion of Simon Peter.
This summons to conversion is not just for Simon Peter, but rather for us all.
It all begins with the confession of Andrew. In this, Andrew represents the early Johannine community who confessed that Jesus was the Messiah. This is also reflected in our community today as the Church confesses that Jesus is Lord.
Our role is to be like Simon Peter, recognizing the witness of the Church as a summons to conversion and then to seek Jesus.
Theologian J. Rodman Williams tells us, in his book Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, that “Jesus doubtless saw what was in the man Simon… but He also perceived the Peter that Simon could become… Jesus’ faith was finally vindicated and Simon became the Rock of the early church.”
Bishop John Shelby Spong explains, in his book The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic, that “we readers must recognize that Peter’s struggle is in fact every person’s struggle. He had been born of flesh years before. His ability to be born of the spirit would test everything his life seemed to mean and it would be an intensely difficult labor.”
If you take one thing away from this homily it should be that the confession of Andrew; “we have found the Messiah,” is as relevant for us all today as it was in the 1st century.
We were all born of flesh and called to be born of Spirit through conversion as disciples of Jesus.
As disciples we are people who believe in Jesus, even though our faith may be inadequate. In this, Simon Peter represents us all. His struggle reflects our struggle. His success shows us that we too can answer the call to conversion.
Whatever is holding down our ability to be born of the Spirit can be overcome. Prejudice, bigotry, tribalism, triumphalism, xenophobia, partisanship, discrimination, etc., make up a partial list of things that hold down the Spirit. We are summoned to conversion, and Simon Peter can be our model. Though we may fail more than succeed we must never give up.
I pray you answer the summons to conversion and never give up.