The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – 14 January 2018
1 Samuel 3, 3-10, 19 + Psalm 40 + 1 Corinthians 6, 13-15 + John 1, 35-42
Even though we are now beginning the year of Mark, the Gospel today comes from John respecting an old liturgical theme of celebrating different manifestations of Jesus. John’s whole Gospel is a gradual manifestation of who Jesus is from this announcement of John the Baptist to Martha’s announcement at the raising of her brother, Lazarus. So, only 35 verses into the Gospel two people reveal who Jesus is: John the Baptist and that first-called apostle, Andrew who says: “We have found the Messiah.” Late this coming summer, we will return to John’s Gospel and spend several weeks reflecting upon how Jesus is manifested in the Bread of Life.
For now, it is important to realize where Jesus goes looking for disciples, and who it is he calls. It is not to the high and mighty that he goes. It is not to the Temple High Priests or to powerful Princes and Kings. It is to working people who are at work. People who are called to follow Jesus are simply ordinary people doing what they do every day. These two disciples of John the Baptist have already been caught up in the anticipation, the desire, and the hope his preaching has stirred up. Suddenly their Rabbi, John the Baptist, points to Jesus walking by. Already attentive to John’s teaching, they follow his advice without a question and turn their attention to this one who passes by.
The writer of this Gospel is very careful and very precise about words. For instance: the question, “What are you looking for” is asked two more times in this Gospel, when soldiers come at night into the Garden of Olives and when Mary stands at an empty tomb. Today it is asked again, asked of us, by the Word of God in this assembly. When the question, “Where do you stay?” is asked, they want to know more than his street address. In John’s Gospel, the words: stay, dwell, abide, and remain all have a profound meaning, and they come up again and again throughout John’s Gospel. All of this should excite our imagination and take us beyond the simple superficial meaning of the words into the real themes at work. When Jesus says, “Come and see” we should remember that “seeing” for Saint John is the starting point of faith. Over and over again John has people “see and believe” from the signs Jesus worked.
Like those two first apostles, we are a people who have found the Messiah. We know that what we are looking for is not really here on this earth. I suppose that is why so many of us are so restless deep down in our hearts. We have to understand through the Gospel accounts where he stays, where he dwells, and where he abides. The story we have just told about a homeless couple in Bethlehem tells us quite clearly that he is to be found where we might least expect. Incidents in all four Gospels make clear beyond a doubt that he stays with, abides with, and dwells with tax collectors, sinners, the blind, the sick, the unclean, and the poor.
There is a progression here that can measure the depth of our spiritual lives. It begins with wonder and a question about what we are looking for. It moves deeper with a desire to follow the Christ and see where he stays. Then, coming to see, or perceive, and understand all of this is the beginning of faith. When we see and believe, we will truly be apostles whose first instinct and desire will be to bring another to Jesus. The question we are left with then after reflecting upon this Gospel is whether or not we have really seen and believed. Because, if we have, we would still be bringing people to Jesus.