Print Version    Email to Friend
Easter Sunday - The unnamed disciple and Peter

Mary Magdalene, after seeing the empty tomb runs to the two disciples: Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved. 
It is generally said that the beloved disciple is Evangelist John. But this identification took place much later, about 100 years after the apostle had died. However, in the Gospel of St. John, this figure certainly has a symbolic character and that should be understood.
This unnamed disciple is always connected in some way with Peter:
•  The beloved disciple enters the scene next to Andrew. One day the two see Jesus passing by. They ask him where he lives. They follow and stay with him all night. What about Peter? He enters because the nameless disciple reaches Jesus before him (John 1:35-40).
•  This disciple is no longer spoken about until the last supper when Jesus declares that among the 12 there is also a traitor. Who finds him out? Who can recognise who is on the side of Jesus and who is against him? It is not Peter, but the unnamed disciple who reclines his head on the breast of the Lord (John 13:23-26).
• During the passion, Peter stops and rejects the Master. The unnamed disciple has the courage to follow him into the house of the high priest and is close to Jesus during the process (John 18:15-27).
• Peter is not on Calvary. He escaped. The disciple whom Jesus loves is instead with the Master. He is at the foot of the cross with his mother (John 19:25-27).
• Then comes today’s passage in which Peter is again beaten, both in the material race and in the spiritual one—as we shall see shortly (John 20:3-10).
• On the sea of Tiberias, it is still this disciple who recognises the risen Christ in the man on the shore. Peter realises it only later (John 21:7).
• Finally, when he is invited by Jesus to follow him, Peter does not have the courage to do it alone. He feels the need to have at his side “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-25).
Who is he then? He represents the authentic disciple, the one who just meets Jesus and does not hesitate. He immediately follows him and wants to know him. He follows him also when it is necessary to offer his life. 
He has no name because we are invited to insert one’s own names in his place.
At the empty tomb Peter stops, astonished and amazed. The unnamed disciple instead takes a step forward: he sees and begins to believe (v.8). It is the climax moment of his journey of faith in the risen Lord. In front of the signs of death (the grave, the bandages, the shroud…), he begins to perceive the victory of life.
The concluding verse of the episode: The two disciples “went back home again” (v.10). It almost gives the impression that everything returns as before.
But it is not so. The two have known Jesus; they have witnessed the same facts and saw the same signs. 
Resuming daily life, one continues discouraged and disappointed, and the other is guided by a new light and supported by a new hope.
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
     Claretian Publications
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF