Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

In today’s Gospel, Peter asks what will happen to John.  Jesus tells him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?  What concern is it of yours?  You follow me.”

Each of us is called to follow Jesus by our own unique path within the Church.  Jesus does not want us to compare our path to someone else’s.  Some of us might be called to very prominent positions or to do things that draw a lot of attention.  Others of us are called to be anonymous saints, simply toiling quietly in the vineyard, and doing what God has asked us to do.  What someone else is called to do is not our concern, except to the extent that we might be able to support another in following their path. 

At the same time, this passage speaks to the diversity of the Church.  The Body of Christ necessarily has many different and unique members.  Just as the body has diverse parts and systems that all must function well for one to be in good health, the members of the Body of Christ all have different roles to play in making the whole Body realize its potential.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, the famous 20th century theologian (and a favorite of Pope Benedict XVI) described four archetypes: Peter, Paul, John, and Mary.  With each are associated characteristic expressions of the new mode of grace given at the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Their archetypal experience shapes our experience of the Church.  The Petrine contribution (associated with Peter) is the apostolic preaching and the sacraments.  The Pauline contribution includes charismatic and visionary graces which inspire missions.  The Johannine contribution (with John) is contemplative love.  The Marian archetype is the most important of the four.  It is Mary’s “spousal-maternal presence providing a Marian unity at the core of the earthly-heavenly Church.”

Peter’s mission leading the origins of the Church hierarchy is essential.  But so is John’s mission of building up contemplative love within the early Church community.  From both, we enjoy the benefits today.

Within our Church today, we can see these four archetypes if we look for them.  More generally, we also see great diversity.  Culturally, spiritually, geographically, and in many other ways, the Church is a diverse Church.  And each of us is trying to answer our individual call while supporting others in theirs. 

But, within this diversity, there is unity.  Centered on Jesus Christ.  On our relationship with him (even in diverse ways).  And centered on the gift of the Eucharist.

Can we see the benefits of Peter’s contribution to the Church?  Can we see those of John also?  Do we appreciate the diversity found within the Church?  Do we continue to work toward greater unity within the Church?