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The Primacy of Peter and the Primacy of Love: 3rd Sunday of Easter
The Sacred Page ^ | April 14, 2013 | John Bergsma

Posted on 04/14/2013 3:33:56 PM PDT by NYer

This week is the Third Sunday of Easter, and our readings highlight the primacy of Peter among the Apostles, and the primacy of love in following Jesus.
Just a few comments on the preliminary readings before we concentrate on the Gospel.  During the seven weeks of the Easter Season, the Lectionary reads semi-continuously through Acts in the First Reading (showing the birth of the Church on earth) and through Revelation in the Second (showing the final state of the Church in heaven). 

In the First Reading this week (Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41) we see Peter’s primacy (“Peter and the apostles said in reply …”) in leading the early Church through the experience of persecution, and in boldly proclaiming the Gospel despite sustained and serious cultural opposition.  Let’s pray for Pope Francis to do the same.

In the Second Reading, (Rev 5:11-14 ), John, whom tradition has identified as the same as the author of this Sunday’s Gospel, sees the entire creation in worship of the Lamb: “every creature in heaven and on earth, and under the earth and in the sea”—all cry out “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor …”  Though now the Church is a little flock, persecuted by civil authorities as in Acts 5, yet we take courage in the firm hope that all creation will acknowledge Jesus as Lord in the final day.

The Gospel is Jn 21:1-19 :

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Some scholars insist that John 21 is an addition to the Gospel by a different author than chapters 1-20, but this has to be regarded as improbable and unsupported.  The language, structures, and thought in John 21 are very similar to those in the rest of the Gospel, and there are a large number of intertextual links that bind John 21 with the entire book.

Two other Gospel passages have to be kept in mind to properly understand John 21.

The first is Luke 5:1-11, where Jesus initially calls the disciples.  After preaching from Peter’s boat, Jesus tells Peter to “put out into the deep” (duc in altum) for a big catch, even though they had toiled all night and caught nothing.  Peter and the sons of Zebedee pull in an amazing catch of fish, Peter begs the Lord to depart because he is a “sinful man”, and Jesus calls the disciples to follow him and become fishers of men.  There are several obvious parallels with this Sunday’s Gospel.  John the Evangelist presupposes that the reader knows the story of Luke 5, in order to grasp that here, in John 21, after the resurrection, Jesus is renewing his call to the Apostles to “follow him” and calling them back to their original vocation and mission.  This is one of several instances where John presupposes that his readers have some familiarity with the life of Jesus from the other Gospels or possibly oral tradition.

The other Gospel passage to be kept in mind is John 18:15-18,25-27, the account of the threefold denial of Jesus by Peter.  When Peter denied Jesus, he was warming himself over a “charcoal fire” (John 18:18).  Jesus makes a “charcoal fire” to cook breakfast in this Sunday’s Gospel (John 21:9).  These are the only two references to a charcoal fire in the Gospel of John, indeed in all of Scripture.  It’s not accidental—Peter is being reminded of the night of his betrayal, and Jesus will allow him a chance to ritually “renounce his renunciation” three times.
This Gospel account highlights the primacy of Peter among the Apostles.  The character of Peter, in fact, dominates most of John 21, the conclusion of this greatest of the Gospels, even though the Gospel was clearly written by a different apostle (John 21:20-24):  (1) Peter is listed first among the disciples named as present.  (2) The other disciples follow his lead by accompanying him fishing.  (3) When Jesus shows his presence on the shore, Peter is the first one to go ashore, followed by the others.  (4) The others don’t seem to be able to get the fish ashore.  But then, the way John describes it, it sounds like Peter goes single-handedly back on board the boat and drags the net of 153 fish in by himself.  (5) After the breakfast, Peter alone is granted a private audience with the risen Lord.  Obviously the author of this Gospel has a high regard for Peter and his role among the Apostles and within the Church.  This account is an enacted parable about the mission of the Church.  Jesus sends the Apostles to fish for men, but they will not be successful without his presence.  With Jesus' presence, and lead by Peter, the Apostles will do an amazing job in drawing in the "net full of fish" (see Matt 13:47-50) which is the Church, the kingdom of heaven.

But this Gospel is not only about the primacy of Peter.  It is also about the primacy of love.  During the “audience” between Jesus and Peter (vv. 15-19), Peter’s ritual re-confirmation as chief shepherd all revolves around his love for the Lord.

First, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  The question is ambiguous.  Who are the “these”?  Does Jesus mean:
(1) “Do you love me more than [you love] these [other men]?”  I.e. Do you love me above all other persons in your life?
(2) “Do you love me more than these [fish]?” I.e. Do you love me more than you profession, your way of life, your livelihood, your “comfort zone”?
(3) “Do you love me more than these [other men do]?” I.e. Do you have greater love for me than others do?  Do you excel in love, so as to be suitable to excel also in authority?
Ambiguity abounds in the Gospel of John, and I think it is intentional.  All three meanings may well be meant.  Jesus is eliciting from Peter a comprehensive love to correspond to the comprehensive role of shepherding that he will bestow.

Three times Jesus asks about Peter’s love; three times he affirms it.  Two different words for “love” are used in the Greek.  The first two times, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you agape me?”  Agape is the word for divine love.  Peter always answers, “I phileo you.” Phileo is the Greek word for fraternal love.  The last time, Jesus adopts Peter’s term and asks, “Do you phileo me?”

This gives the impression that Jesus asks twice, Do you love me with divine love? And Peter responds twice, “I love you with brotherly love.”  And at last Jesus condescends to Peter’s capabilities, “Do you love me with brotherly love?”, thus implying that such love will suffice: Jesus will accept what Peter, no longer brash and now painfully cognizant of his human weakness, knows he can offer. 

This interpretation is suggestive, but must be entertained with caution, because both phileo and agapao are used elsewhere in John for both divine and human love.  We can't be certain that a distinction is intended here.

The idea that Jesus is condescending to Peter’s human weakness is, nonetheless, clear from the passage as a whole.  Otherwise, Jesus would have rejected Peter on account of his threefold denial at the Lord’s time of need.

The primary requirement that Jesus asks of Peter is love.  In return for this love, Jesus commissions Peter to “Feed my lambs—tend my sheep—feed my sheep.”  The threefold repetition of this commission, together with the variations in which the shepherding charge is phrased, point to the comprehensive nature of the shepherding role being given to Peter.  While all the apostles have a role as shepherd over part of the flock, Peter is commissioned as shepherd of the whole flock.  As A. Kostenberger puts it: “[Peter], who has renounced all earthly ties and who has declared supreme loyalty to Jesus … is commissioned to serve as shepherd of Jesus’ flock as the Great Shepherd takes his leave."

Peter’s love will lead to the cross.  “When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands” –this is a reference to stretching one’s arms on the patibulum, the perpendicular bar of a Roman cross.

Love and authority go together in the Church.  Love gives credibility to authority.  St. Ignatius of Antioch gives one of the earliest testimonies to the primacy of the authority of the Church of Rome, Peter’s See, in his Letter to the Romans, when he famously refers to Rome “presiding in love” over the other churches (Ignatius of Antioch, Romans 1).  Indeed, whoever would preside in authority should first preside in love.  Pope Francis quoted St. Ignatius’ words about “presiding in love” on the very night he was first presented on the balcony of St. Peter’s as “bishop of Rome,” the one who presides over the church that is to preside in love.  Since then, his aggressive efforts to demonstrate that love tangibly have won the hearts of most of the watching world.

This Sunday’s Gospel lays out the role of Peter and all his successors: the most renounce all others and excel in love of Jesus in order to lead the whole Church.

At the same time, the Lord’s words are applied to us: Do we love him “more than these”?  Do we love him more than we love other persons, than we love our profession and lifestyle?  Do we in any way distinguish ourselves from other people by our love for Christ?  That’s what it means to follow Jesus, and everyone, from the Pope to the most unknown believer, has to respond to Jesus’ summons: “Follow me!”

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology

1 posted on 04/14/2013 3:33:56 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Scripture ping!

2 posted on 04/14/2013 3:34:19 PM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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To: NYer

Feed my lambs.

Tend my sheep.

Feed my sheep.

Sounds like marching orders to me.

3 posted on 04/14/2013 3:39:50 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer
The Primacy of Peter and the Primacy of Love: 3rd Sunday of Easter
11 Reasons the Authority of Christianity Is Centered on St. Peter and Rome
The Primacy of Peter
On St. Peter's Imprisonment and Miraculous Release

The Twelve Apostles of the Catholic Church: St. Peter [Catholic Caucus]
Church Authority Doesn't "Peter" Out
Radio Replies Second Volume - St. Peter in Rome
Did Peter Have a Successor?
St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome
Heart of the Church (St. Peter in Words and Stone)
A Saint for the Rest of Us
On This Rock

St. Peter and Rome
Did the Apostle Peter Ever Visit Rome?
Occasionally Naive and Fearful, Yet Honest and Capable of Repentance (Profile of St. Peter)
Saint Peter As Seen by His Successor (extraordinary document from B16 on his preaching and papacy)
Peter, Witness of the Resurrection (Papal preparations for Easter 2006)
The Fraternal Society of St. Peter on EWTN
The Primacy of Peter
Saint Peter and the Vatican, the Legacy of the Popes
Saint Peter and The Vatican - Legacy of the Popes

4 posted on 04/14/2013 3:59:40 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Sounds like marching orders to me.

Well said.

On a less positive note:

At Mass at my church today, the homily was replaced by a recording of our bishop asking us to donate to the annual Catholic Appeal. He made references to these instructions to Peter in today’s gospel.

But, on the envelope, I pledged what I pledged last year, i.e., zero. As long as the bishops continue to advocate for helping illegals, I will not contribute.

5 posted on 04/14/2013 5:53:28 PM PDT by Bigg Red (Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! -Ps80)
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To: NYer; NorthernCrunchyCon;; Finatic; fellowpatriot; MarineMom613; Ron C.; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

6 posted on 04/14/2013 5:54:51 PM PDT by narses
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To: Salvation
Sounds like marching orders to me.

Yep...The same marching orders that all of the overseers received from God...

Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

A little bible always clears up any delusions...

7 posted on 04/15/2013 6:59:51 AM PDT by Iscool
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To: Iscool

Yes, the same, only different as in PRIMACY of Peter not EXCLUSIVELY to Peter.

St. Paul....are all Apostles?

IOW, we are all called to spread the Good News, yet we are not all Apostles, teachers, theologists, prophets, healers etc.....

Nice try, though. Deny if you will, but Peter was singled out, Peter was named Rock.

8 posted on 04/15/2013 8:29:10 PM PDT by Jvette
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To: Iscool
A little bible always clears up any delusions...

(Jesus talking to Peter) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: (Mt. 16:19)

9 posted on 04/15/2013 8:43:28 PM PDT by mtg
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To: Jvette
Nice try, though. Deny if you will, but Peter was singled out, Peter was named Rock.

No, Peter's name was rock, a small stone...

Can you show us Peter's church in the bible??? No???

Who did Jesus reveal the doctrine of salvation by grace thru faith??? Peter??? Nope, Paul...Who did Jesus pick out to set up the structure of the church??? Peter??? Nope again...Jesus picked Paul...

Who did Jesus pick to send the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles; those who are not Jewish??? Peter, or his supposed 2nd in command??? Nope again...It was Paul...

If anyone ended up with primacy it would clearly have been Paul...

Of course you can throw away the bible and make up your own religion...Oh, you already have???

10 posted on 04/16/2013 5:08:36 AM PDT by Iscool
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To: mtg
(Jesus talking to Peter) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: (Mt. 16:19)

And what are the keys??? Oh, you guys still can't answer that???

You guys don't even know what the kingdom of heaven is...And here's a hint...It is NOT the kingdom of God...

11 posted on 04/16/2013 5:11:49 AM PDT by Iscool
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To: Iscool
When the discussion is on the primacy of Peter ... 1 Peter 5 is never mentioned. Peters own words ...

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

Peter was saying he was an equal with the elders ... not over them.

12 posted on 04/16/2013 8:38:33 AM PDT by dartuser (My firearm is not illegal ... its undocumented.)
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To: dartuser


13 posted on 04/16/2013 9:54:28 AM PDT by Iscool
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To: Iscool
And what are the keys??? Oh, you guys still can't answer that???

The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17) The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Matthew 18:18) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

You guys don't even know what the kingdom of heaven is...

From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission. He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and “sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:2) They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29–30)

14 posted on 04/16/2013 12:44:57 PM PDT by mtg
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To: dartuser
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ...

Peter was merely pointing our that like them, he also was an elder. There is absolutely no indication here that he was suggesting to them that his authority no longer existed or that it never did exist.

15 posted on 04/16/2013 1:01:00 PM PDT by mtg
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To: Iscool

LOL, really, nice try.

Yes, Paul is a very instrumental man in God’s plan as he was the most prolific and edifying of authors in the NT. Not surprising being he was the most educated. But, Paul was not Jesus’ choice for the one to lead His church, Peter was.

Rock or small stone, there is no denying that Jesus, God, changed Peter’s name and He only did that when He used someone for a very specific purpose. Like with Abram to Abraham, who was the father of the Jews.

Also, Paul deferred to Peter as we see at least twice in his epistles. The time he rebukes Peter he did not lessen Peter’s stature but showed that, though he was first, he was the leader and not the ruler of the church. And the rebuke was for personal behavior not regarding doctrine. Doctrine that the Spirit revealed to Peter.

That is still true today. That is why it is said that the bishops are in union with the pope, but that doesn’t mean the pope rules, just that he speaks for the church.

As for Paul being sent to the Gentiles, yes that’s true enough, but it was Peter to whom God sent the first Gentile and who had the dream which led him to know that Jesus’ salvation was for all men and not just the Jews.

The gospel of grace through faith was not a new one, Jesus spoke of it before His death. What Paul did, and God is so good to have used him as He did, was to write very wonderfully about grace. He was certainly a very eloquent and edifying theologian, but sorry, his message was not new nor was it given exclusively to Paul.

I have no need to throw away the Bible, it is the Book of the Church, Jesus’ Church. I don’t belong to Peter’s church, though it would seem that some here mistakenly believe they belong to Paul’s.

16 posted on 04/16/2013 7:50:19 PM PDT by Jvette
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To: dartuser

No one says that Peter was OVER the others, but that he led. Like a point man. I don’t know what is so hard to understand about that.

17 posted on 04/16/2013 7:53:32 PM PDT by Jvette
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