Wednesday, 4th January, 2012
1 John 3:7-10: Belonging to God or belonging to the Devil: a stark choice.
John 1:35-42: Jesus calls his first disciples, from among the Baptist’s followers.
What are we really looking for?
The vocational stories told by John in his first chapter combine a lovely simplicity with challenging depth. They may be compared and contrasted to the call of the fishermen by the lake-shore, as told in Luke () – but they bring out extra dimensions in the call to follow Jesus. On the one side we see the influence of others (in this case, John the Baptist,) pointing us towards Jesus, inviting us to see and admire what he has to offer. On the other side, as the fourth Gospel makes plain, our own personal desire and quest comes into it too. Jesus invites them to express their deepest hopes and aspirations, in that powerful question: “What are you looking for?” There is no religious vocation without that inner quest which demands satisfaction.
“What are you looking for?” But their first reply is somewhat superficial, no really touching the core of their search. “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Well, it’s a start; they want to relate to him in some way; to follow up on their first encounter with him. Then comes his invitation, which calls them into a meeting that will last not just an hour but a whole lifetime: “Come, and you will see.” Here we see that wonderful way in which the fourth Evangelist manages to combine a definite, concrete episode or meeting (“Come to my house this afternoon, and we can talk.”) with an open-ended challenge to a constant religious experience (“Come and be with me – and you will see what life can mean.”) St John achieves a similar effect in each of the later stories in his Gospel. What happened once, in the encounter of some individuals with Jesus, continues to happen for his disciples in every subsequent time and place.
Along with the link with John the Baptist in today’s story, we then see how the early Christians drew one another to Christ. In Simon’s case it was his brother Andrew, who excitedly tells his brother “We have found the Messiah!” This was the occasion, according to St. John, when Jesus renamed Simon as Cephas,” or Peter. Not quite the same version as we get in Matthew (16:16ff), but just as valid a way of telling us that it is only in Jesus that we find our full identity and our God-given vocation.
First Reading: 1 John 3:7-10
Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the Devil, because the Devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil.
No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. In this way, the children of God and the children of the Devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother.
Gospel: John 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.