04Jan 04 January. Thursday 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 in this first chapter of the fourth Gospel combine simplicity with a challenging implication about our own role(s) in life. They may be seen alongside the call of the fishermen by the lake-shore, while highlighting 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?” The first reply they give, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” is rather superficial, not really naming their purpose. Well, it’s a start; they want to relate to him in some way; to build on their first encounter with him. Then comes his invitation, calling them into a relationship 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.

Come and See

When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” he recognized not only the role of Jesus in salvation; he inferred the relationship of the Son to the Father. As he had come from the Father, Jesus gave himself back to the Father. His self-giving began with his Incarnation, became explicit in his baptism, continued through his ministry, and culminated on the cross. He gave himself because he loved the Father and loved all God’s creatures. The Baptist’s declaration (“The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”) revealed both the character and the mission of Jesus. Through his love, he accepted the role of the Suffering Servant. He gave himself to his Father for our sake in spite of suffering and death.

Why is self-giving so unusual? Have you ever been impressed by others who give their time and talent to others? Have they ever asked you to join them? What happened? Did their invitation change you? A simple invitation can be life-changing. Come and see . . . That invitation can come in different ways, from a letter or a look to a simple act of unselfish love. Come and see . . . When we invite others to faith, we ask them to encounter the One after whom we pattern our lives. Come and see . . . the Lord. He will show us the loving way to live and he will give us a new identity as a Christian. He will show us the way to the Father. Come and see . . .

How have you influenced others to become Christ-like? Have you extended them acts of love? Have you ever asked them to join you at Church? Try to help someone this week and invite him or her closer to the Lord. (Larry Broding)