Sam 3:3-10, 19; I Cor 6: 13-15, 17 – 20; John 1:35-42
A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in church on vocation to priesthood and religious life. Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go home?”
Dear friends! We all the readings today are about God’s call and our response. We can call it vocation Sunday. It invites us to help people to discover God in their lives: Eli and Samuel, John the Baptist and Andrew.
The little boy Samuel hears a voice in the night, he assumes the old priest Eli is calling him. Samuel has no knowledge of the Word of God, but the old priest has grown to recognize its strangeness and its power. As he introduced Samuel’s mother to the promise of God, he introduces the young boy to the word of the Lord. So Samuel, learns to respond: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”. That is a bit different from many modern prayers, which often say, “Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking”.
And ten centuries later, the same is true of two other men: John the Baptist and Andrew. In today’s Gospel we see John the Baptist introducing two of his own disciples to Jesus: in doing this he introduces them to their new future. The disciples follow Jesus and stay with him. John points away from himself to the Christ. That is his role. In the fourth Gospel this man sent by God runs the 1st introduction agency for those on the lookout for the Messiah.
Andrew is one of the two disciples. He leaves his master, John to follow in the footsteps of his new master, Jesus. He needs John the Baptist to point him in the right direction, to make a new start. And what John did for Andrew, Andrew does for his brother, Simon. He shares his experience with Simon, tells him that he has met the Christ, and introduces him to Jesus.
When we reflect on the beginning of our own Christian faith, we recall the people who introduced us to Jesus. Most of us can think of a particular person who enabled us to begin our journey in faith, as we can think of others who introduced us anew to Jesus. None of us go alone to Jesus; access to Jesus is always mediated through people. Before meeting Jesus, we meet first a litany of other people. We all come to Jesus by way of generation of Christians who shared their experience of Jesus, people who were themselves introduced to Jesus by others. Thus the story of Christianity is a story of a great chain of witnesses linked through the apostles to Jesus himself.
Liturgy of the Word invites us to play our own part in introducing or helping people to discover Jesus. We don’t have to be great missionaries to do this: if we believe that Jesus is worth knowing, we will bring others into his loving presence by our quiet witness. In that way the Christian faith grows, and there will never be an end to it.
No one can give what one does not have. It’s hard to share Christ with others if you yourself have not experienced him…
The two disciples in today’s gospel ask a simple, straight -forward question: “Teacher, where are you staying?” An answer to this question could be given in a moment, in a couple of words, but Jesus does not provide them. Instead he says, “Come and see.” The disciples come to Jesus with a question; he responds with an invitation. Instead of responding in words, he offers an opportunity for the disciples to travel with him, to walk with him, and perhaps to find what they are searching for.
We come to God with questions. God gives us invitations. The questions are many and can be drawn from a number of different circumstances. Why do the innocent suffer? Why is our world so violent? Why is someone that I love sick? Why can’t I find a job? Why do our political and religious leaders fail us? How can I protect my family? Why am I so depressed and lonely? Where can I look for hope? Questions, real questions, that we place before God. But God doesn’t answer them. God simply says, “Come and see; come follow me.”
How much easier it would be if God would simply explain things to us, if God would tell us what is going to happen, if God would tell us what we want to know. But God does not tell us. God says, “Come and see.” God responds in this way because on the deepest level, God knows that what we really need, what our life really requires, is not information, but trust. We come to God with questions, God responds with invitations. We come looking for information, God invites us to trust.