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 and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of Epiphany, which means “manifestation of God”, the glory of God shines out for all the nations represented by the wise men from the East, in Mary’s little Child.
Last Monday, at the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, that light manifests once more as the Heaven opens and the Spirit comes down on Jesus. A voice is heard, “You are my Son, the Beloved” (Luke 3:22). Today, we come to the account of the vocation of the first Apostles who follow Jesus.
Today’s gospel reading is short, comprising only eight verses. However, these eight verses tell us the significant event in the history of salvation because it is the mother of all vacations that would grow and spread down through the ages until the end of the world.
It is significant that it is Christ who first had come to open heaven for all mankind. Also, he finds the means of bringing us all to the eternal home without help from any man but cooperate with him in this divine task through his Church, which is his kingdom in this world decreed by him. It is true that his Church is run by mortals for their fellow-mortals, but it is under his protection and assisted by his divine aid until the end of time.
Today’s gospel is about how Jesus chose the mortals to run his Church. He chose them in a very human way. First, John the Baptist is a holy man and attracts a number of followers. However, having learned from divine revelation that Jesus is the promised Messiah (John 1:32-34), he knows that his mission is a temporary one and encourages his disciples to follow Jesus. So, when Jesus walks by, John the Baptist exclaims, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Having been steeped in scriptures, particularly the suffering servant in second Isaiah (53:7-12), the two of his disciples realize that Jesus is the promised Messiah and they follow him.
Knowing that he is being followed, Jesus turns to them and asks, “What are you looking for?” Jesus asks this question because he wants them to declare what they want. In other words, Jesus wants them to articulate what is their authentic desire. Many times, we have a number of wants or desire, but we hardly know what is the authentic desire, or the only desire that we want. Articulation helps us to clarify our wants and desires so that we can realize our in most desire.
The answer of the two is, “Where are you staying?” Their desire is to be with him. Then, Jesus says, “Come and see.” He invites them to come along. Later, Andrew tells his brother Simon about the meeting with Jesus and Simon goes to meet Jesus.
On his very first encounter with Simon, Jesus promises him that his name will be changed to “Rock”, meaning strength and solidity. A change of name of chosen people signifies a change of position or function. Simon’s change of position and function takes place later, when he is given the primacy of the Church in Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Jesus chooses the lowly and the humble to confound the wise. The first four Apostles, John, Andrew, Peter and James (sure John or the beloved disciple as the Evangelist calls himself would tell his brother James that Jesus is the promised Messiah as what Andrew do to Peter), and the other eight, were not well educated and low in society. He could have chosen those well educated and powerful figures of good social standing of his time. The instrument Jesus chooses is not depending on human ingenuity or on the educational or social standing. Instead it is to stand on the power of God, of which it is the expression and proof.
Today, let us thank our blessed Lord who provided so humanly, and yet so divinely for our eternal welfare in the Church, which has had its enemies and oppositions from the beginning, but the promise of Christ still holds good, his word cannot fail. “If God is for us” it matters not “who is against us (Romans 8:31).”
We can reflect on all these promises which our Lord’s radiant presence holds out for us. As his disciples, we can ask for the grace to believe in him, and entrust ourselves completely to him who is Light. Amen.