04 January. Wednesday before Epiphany
1st Reading: 1 John 3:7-10
How we are reborn as children of God
Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.
Gospel: John 1:35-42
The calling of Jesus’ first disciples: “Come and See”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
When Jesus turned and saw them following, he 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 see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him an said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
What are we 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, 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 towards Jesus, inviting us to see and admire what he has to offer. On the other side, our own desires and questions come into it too. Jesus invites them to express their deepest hopes and aspirations in a deep question: “What are you looking for?” There is no religious vocation without that inner quest which demands satisfaction.
“What are you looking for?” Their first reply is superficial, not really naming their purpose. “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 role of John the Baptist, we 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, in John’s account, when Jesus renamed Simon as Cephas or Peter. Not quite the same as in Matthew (16:16ff), but just as valid a way of telling us that it is only in Jesus that we find our full, God-given vocation.