The passage from last Sunday’s Gospel is one of my favorite. I refer particularly to the first 5 verses, John 1:35-39. It was first shown and explained to me over 20 years ago by a then young Franciscan priest. Since then, it has become more and more meaningful to me.
The passage begins with John the Baptist watching Jesus walk by, long after John had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
John was telling his disciples that Jesus was the one they were to follow now. I often wonder what those two disciples made of the term, “Lamb of God”. It was not a term they ever used to describe the Messiah, or anyone for that matter. What does it mean that Jesus is the “Lamb of God” must have been going through their minds.
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
When John the Evangelist tells us this, he does not mean they were following Jesus as his disciples, but were literally following Jesus has we walked along, like two detectives following a suspect. They followed Jesus at a distance, hiding behind trees and houses; stopping at a vegetable cart pretending to shop for cabbage – they did not want to be noticed by Jesus. They were not yet sure what to make of Him. What was He about? What was His mission? What would He ask of them?
We can be this way. We sit in the back of church. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want to draw the pastors attention to us, lest he ask something of us. We fear getting too close to God. What will He ask of me? What will He make me give up?
Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?”
Well of course, being God, Jesus knew He was being followed. So after a while of letting them think they were fooling Him, Jesus turns around and confronts them. I don’t know what kind of expletives they had 2000 years ago, but I imagine the two disciples reaction to being found out was something like, “Oh crap! Now what do we do?” Despite their best efforts, they’ve been found out. Now, Jesus does not ask, “what do you want” or “why are you following me”, but instead asks them what they “seek”.
What a simple yet profound question. When we go to Mass, what do we seek? Not just a good parking spot or place to sit. But really, what is it we are looking for when we come to Mass?
And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
They ask the question we all ask Jesus. Where are you going? Where are you going to ask me to go? “Perhaps we can get some information before we commit to Him” they think. A five year plan is what we want. Tell me what is in store for me if I follow You?
He said to them, “Come and see.”
Jesus does not give out five year plans. He knows that first we need to walk with Him. We need to spend time with Him. We need to come to know Him. Only then can we understand what He asks of us. Only then can we truly love Him. The two disciples realized this.
They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
What will your answer be when Jesus asks, “What do you seek?”
And when He says, “come and see”, what will you do?