04Jan 04 January. Friday before Epiphany

1st Reading: 1 John 3:7-10

How we are reborn as children of God

Little children, let nobody 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 do we really want?

The vocation stories in this first chapter of the fourth Gospel have implications for our own choices in life. Compared with the call of the fishermen beside the lake-shore, they emphasise the personal aspect of our call to follow Jesus. Of course, there was the influence of John the Baptist, pointing people towards Jesus, inviting them to see and adopt what Jesus stood for. Our own desires and questions are important too. Jesus invites us, like those first disciples, to express our deepest hopes and aspirations when he asks: “What are you looking for?” There is no religious vocation until we feel that inner quest.

“What are you looking for?” Their first answer is, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” This seems a superficial response, not really stating 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 challenging invitation, to a relationship that will last not just an hour but a whole lifetime: “Come, and you will see.” How skilfully the fourth Evangelist combines a definite, concrete invitation (something like, “Come to my house this afternoon, and we can talk.”) with the suggestion of a deeper religious experience (“Come and be with me, and you will see what life can mean.”) Saint John achieves a similar effect later in his Gospel. What happened once, in the encounter of one person with Jesus, continues to happen for his disciples in every subsequent time and place.

Along with the invitational role played by John the Baptist, the Gospel shows how the early Christians drew each other 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? Are you impressed by others who give their time and talent to others? Have they ever asked you to join them? Did their invitation change you? A simple invitation can be life-changing. Come and see . . . The invitation can come in different ways, from a sermon 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 shown them love? Have you asked them to join you at Church? Try to help someone this week and invite them closer to the Lord. (Larry Broding).

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