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Homily: Second Sunday of Ordinary Time [B]

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.

God bless,


About neodecaussade

I am a Roman Catholic quester. You will find that I have scripture based academic interests. You will discover that I am a conservative Catholic but I am also prone to heterodox tendencies. I am versed in highly pietistic traditionalist practices but I am not a traditionalist. I am interested in entering a discussion on the future of the Roman Catholic Church. I would like to have a role in discussing how the future Church will be shaped.

7 responses »

  1. 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.


    Mar 16:9

    Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

    Mat 28:1, 28:9

    In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. . . .
    And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

    Jhn 20:1, 15, 16

    Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag’dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. . . .
    Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
    Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” (which means Teacher).

    Lk 24:34: It’s not at all clear from the narrative that Jesus appeared to Peter *before* appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke tells the Emmaus story first, and the quoted verse is spoken to the Emmaus disciples on their return to Jerusalem. The most natural interpretation would seem to be that when he disappeared from the sight of the Emmaus disciples, he then appeared to Peter.

    Only the 1Cor15:5 verse is unambiguous, and it is also the tersest. Paul is clearly citing support for his preaching of the resurrection, by reeling off the list of authoritative witnesses: a list from which women might reasonably be excluded, given the legal customs of the time regarding women’s testimoty. The text does not say he appeared to Peter “first”.

    That’s 1 or 2 canonical witnesses out of 5 describing Peter as the first witness to the risen Lord.

    Only a gaze that is restricted to the 12 apostles a priori could write what Fr. Kung has written there.

    • I’m sorry, I know that didn’t have anything to do with the points you were actually making. But that quote just shocked me.

      Sometimes I wonder if the clergy read the same Bible I do.

    • Dear Gaudetetheology,
      You are quite correct. The quote does not represent all the witnesses to the story of the resurrection. In my attempt to draw my focus to the conversion of Peter I neglected to properly vet the teaser quote. It does appear biased. I will consider updating the post with a more appropriate quotation. Thank you for the comment.

    • Dear Gaudetetheology,
      Hans Kung is not alone in the thought that Peter was the first witness. I do not wish to appear to extend an argument for or against the position, but I want only to provide more details.

      Gerald O’Collins, S.J. completed several works on Easter witness. In 2007 he published a journal article titled “Peter as Easter Witness.” It may very well be that Kung was an inspiration for the work, but I didn’t see him cited in the article.

      A theology professor named Willi Marxsen wrote extensively on the resurrection noting that “Peter was the first to come to the resurrection faith and that the faith of the other “witnesses” derived from Peter’s.”

      Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx in his book “Jesus” also cites 1 Cor. and Luke 24 to note that Simon Peter was the first resurrection witness.

      Fr. Raymond Brown was cited that Peter was the first of the major companions to have seen Jesus after resurrection.

      There are others but I cannot say with certainty that these scholars looked beyond the Apostles. These are all men, also. Thank you for responding.

      • Thanks for the further comments. I found a 2012 paper by O’Collins where he discusses both Peter and Mary Magdalen as Easter witnesses. This paper also quotes from Joel Marcus’ work on the gospel of Mark that might be the kind of quotation you were looking for:

        “On the one hand, the women are to announce the news especially to Peter, the first disciple to be called,” “the first to recognize Jesus’ messiahship,” and the one who would soon “be granted the first resurrection appearance.” On the other hand, the women were “to proclaim the message even to Peter,” whose opposition to Jesus’ coming fate “earned him the epithet 4Satan’” (Mk 8:33) and who three times was to deny knowing Jesus (Mk 14:66-72).

        —Joel Marcus, “Mark 8-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2009)”, 1086; quoted in Gerald O’Collins, “Peter as Witness to Easter”, Theological Studies 73 (2012), 273.

      • WOW! That is perfect. Thank you. I am unfamiliar with Joel Marcus. I will check his work.

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