Gospel –John 1: 35 – 42
We begin ordinary time with this account of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which means that in a few short weeks we have advanced thirty years in the life of John the Baptist and Jesus. John was faithful to his vocation and was preparing the way for the Lord, by calling people to repentance as a preparation for the Messiah. He is the last Prophet and a powerful preacher, who attracted some disciples. We see the fidelity and humility of John when he said to two of his disciples as Jesus passed by; “Behold, the Lamb of God.” These two disciples left John to follow Jesus, and their initial conversation was brief and telling. Jesus asked them; “What are you looking for?” and they answered his question with a question, “Where are you staying?” Jesus gave them the invitation; “Come and you will see.”
These two disciples, Andrew the brother of Peter, and John, the brother of James, followed Jesus and never turned back. It was such an important encounter that they remembered the exact time of the day when they met Jesus, four in the afternoon. Meeting Jesus was life changing for them and the moment they first met him would never be forgotten. My father and his army buddies would talk about where they were when they heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Saint (Mother) Theresa of Calcutta would talk about where she was when she heard the strong, clear call from God to work with the poorest of the poor while on a train to Darjeeling. And we all probably have events in our lives that we remember with such vividness even to the smallest detail. This was the experience of Andrew and James.
The effect it had on each of them is obvious as they remained followers of Jesus and became two of the twelve apostles. We also know that Andrew was so touched by his initial encounter with Jesus that he went to share the news with his brother Peter, telling him, “We have found the Messiah.” It seems that James acted similarly and shared this encounter with his brother John. From this brief, initial encounter with Jesus we have four of the twelve apostles. According to the Scriptures this took place before Jesus ever preached in a synagogue or performed a miracle. This part of his ministry would take place later. It was being in the presence of Jesus that attracted and touched these men, and led them to change their lives. They left everything to follow him, and ultimately Andrew, Peter, and James willingly laid down their lives in martyrdom out of their love and faithfulness to Jesus, while John, though not a martyr, suffered much because of his faith.
In our journey of faith many of us were probably Baptized as infants and brought up in the faith. However, there was some point in our lives when we freely decided to follow Jesus, or to continue to follow him. There are moments that stand out for us when we experienced the powerful and beautiful presence of Jesus. This could have been when we received one of the Sacraments, or on a retreat day or weekend, or at a time and place when we least expected to encounter Jesus. As we begin the Liturgical Season known as Ordinary Time, take time to reflect on these personal encounters with the lord, whether they be ordinary or extraordinary. Allow the memory of these experiences to be the beginning of a year of growth in our relationship with the Lord. Like, Andrew, James, Peter and John may it be a lifetime of growing in our experience of God’s love.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.