2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (January 14, 2018)
In the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus simply invites four fishermen to follow him, and they do it. In John, the first disciples were followers of John the Baptizer. John the Baptizer hails Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” and two of his followers go off with Jesus.
Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for.” Could there have been a more penetrating question? Were they legalists looking for answers to hard questions in the law, like Scribes and Pharisees? Were they revolutionaries looking to overthrow roman authority, like the zealots? Were they looking for power, like the Sadducees? Or, were they simply poor, sinful, quizzical, Jewish men, looking for light? Simple souls. “What are you looking for” is the key question for any would-be disciple. Is it money, power, prestige, or service?
Their answer seems, at first, off point: they answer his question with a question: “teacher, where do you live?” They are respectful towards the one whom john the baptizer showed the greatest respect; they call him, “teacher.” They ask by their question that they do not want a superficial, roadside, fleeting few words with him. It is not a “let’s do lunch” situation. They want to know him; they want to be friends, visiting with him in his own home.
He answers in the Jewish, rabbinic tradition “come and see.” which means, “come and we will talk together, find truth, and you will experience truth that I alone can open up to you.”
Two disciples followed Jesus. One was named, Andrew. Andrew then went to his brother, Peter, and did what Andrew is famous for: not trying to be famous. Andrew was a first-chosen apostle, but he was not chosen to be in the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. Also, he was very content in doing what he seemed to do best, bringing others to Jesus. He did it here, bringing his brother, Peter. Peter was the one chosen to lead. Andrew was fine with that. Andrew appears three times, each time introducing others to Jesus. Later, he appears in chapter 6 bringing the boy with the 5 loaves and 2 small fish to Jesus before the multiplication event. Later still, he appears in chapter 12 when he brings the non-Jewish, Greek inquirers to Jesus.
The other of the two disciples who joined Jesus this day is not named. Scholars suggest that it was the beloved disciple, John. Why? John wrote this Gospel. The author notes that this incident occurred “about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.” Is it not true that we remember the place and time of our most significant events, where and when we were at an earthshaking moment. This may well have been this common experience that led the author to note the time. If he was there, John would never forget this event and never be the same as long as he lived.
I would suggest that the most relevant line for us in today’s gospel is the question of Jesus, “what are you looking for?” What is the bottom line for you in coming to me? What are you looking for? Is it for relief from guilt because of the fear of punishment for past sins or indiscretions? Is it for a need for eternal security? Is it for some kind of career opportunity that could come from doing Jesus’ work? Is it to achieve some form of peace when anxiety is an ongoing probability with all the concerns of living today.
All the foregoing questions may play some role in the drama of our lives. Absolute purity of intention is an ideal seldom realized. But – and it is a large but – should not the right answer to “what are you looking for?” be: I recognize the centrality of relationship in life. I am looking for the perfect relationship. I recognize you, my lord, to be the other person that makes the perfect relationship. I recognize your revelation to me as love. I want my prime, love involvement with you, my lord. I want to be your disciple in my life with you and in all my relationships
I believe that that is the answer that Jesus was looking for from these first two disciples on this day . . . At four o’clock.