2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ -. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" - which is translated Peter.
Introduction: Jesus Christ wants to meet me, and wants me to meet him. He invites me to friendship. He wants to meet me where I am and bring me to where he is so that I can discover my particular path to life, happiness, and fulfillment. Jesus Christ steps into my life. Only one question remains, "How will I respond to his love?"
Petition: Lord, I unite myself to you in this time of prayer. Let me respond to your call with faith, hope and love.
1. The Eternal Encounter. John and Andrew were devout followers of John the Baptist. The message the Baptist preached seemed to reach deep into their hearts and find an echo there. They relished the intensity of John the Baptist; his strong love for the coming Kingdom of God and his vehement upbraiding of those who refused to covert from their wicked hypocrisy. You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. John, later to be called by Christ a Son-of-Thunder, liked his style and his message.
John and Andrew anxiously awaited whomever it was that John was talking about, the soon-to-be-revealed Messiah, perhaps. John and Andrew, therefore, were attentive and searching for Christ without knowing exactly who he was or how he would be. The Baptist first pointed Christ out to his disciples declaring, Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” This first direct revelation prompted none of his disciples to pursue Christ. The next day, however, John and Andrew were alone with John the Baptist. The Baptist said it again. This time John and Andrew acted upon the moment of grace. Little did they know, but this was the beginning of a total sea-change in their lives, they would meet their calling in the one who called. .
As they walked after Jesus, they may not have known, but they were being drawn. They were curious, but no one can come to Christ unless the Father calls him. The moment their eyes fell upon Christ, grace stirred in their soul. Even though they did not know him, he had a presence. Coming up behind Jesus, they watched him. Then he stopped, turned, looked at them and asked, What are you looking for? Jesus somehow knew the yearning inside their hearts, that unsettling notion that something was missing in their lives. They answer, Where are you staying? and Jesus says, Come and see. He did not twist their arms; he simply opened the door to friendship. One afternoon with him and their lives would forever be changed. With Jesus, something 'clicked' inside them. They felt attracted to the person of Christ identified with him. They liked how he acted, what he had to say, how he said it. It was not just admiration, something like love at first sight struck them deep in their hearts, but it was deeper than just a feeling. They spent time with Christ and getting to know him changed everything, quickly and radically.
The vocation is an encounter with Christ who meets me and asks me to spend time with him. By doing so we will be able to hear what he is telling me, and be able to discover who he is. However, we must be ready as John and Andrew. They were searching for the Messiah who was to come. So when they heard they were ready to act. As they spent time with Christ, the yearning to be with him, to follow him, grew. Since the soil of their heart was fertile and ready for God's grace, they felt the calling echo in their soul. How did John and Andrew become aware of their calling? God used John the Baptist to bring them to it. In many similar ways, God leads us to our mission in life. A simple word or suggestion by someone that we know can be the vehicle of grace to drive us toward Christ. Not every one called clearly perceives his vocation from an early age. Sometimes it happens in an instant, but an instant prepared from all eternity. “Lord Jesus, teach me to prepare my heart for you. I want to be attentive and ready when you walk by in my life. I want to meet you and spend time with you. I know you have a plan for my life and I want to pursue that mission. Open my ears to hear your will. Open my eyes to see you and encounter you, personally.”
2. The Encounter Echoed. When John and Andrew met Christ, a definitive mark remained on their soul. John was so impressed that he remembered all the details of that encounter, even the exact hour he met Christ; it was the tenth hour (around 4 pm).
This helps us to realize that discerning our vocation is first and foremost about meeting Christ. A vocation is not an intellectual understanding of the priesthood or religious life. A vocation is an experiential knowledge. It is an understanding stemming from a personal encounter with Jesus. You do not have to read a manual about the priesthood or religious life to know if you are called. John and Andrew did not have the catechism to explain what the priesthood was about. The Church itself didn't even exist. They did not have a handbook outlining the duties and responsibilities expected of Christ's followers. Then how did they know that this is what God wanted of them? They knew because they experienced Jesus personally. They heard him and were drawn to him. Everything was summarized in the encounter. This is the definitive mark that made John remember the exact hour he met Christ. The echoing of that encounter, however, did not stop there for John and Andrew. Christ extended an invitation to friendship when he said, Come and see. John and Andrew grew in their friendship with Christ after that encounter. How? The same way we do with any friendship; time and personal contact.
John and Andrew came back to Christ after that day. They spent more time with him. They were in personal contact with him. They brought others to him. By being with Christ and talking with him, the conviction in their hearts grew. But how can we spend time with Christ? Prayer. It must be a strong and constant part of your life to discern what God wants.
Prayer life is not simply saying grace before meals and occasionally saying a spontaneous prayer to God when I feel like it. Prayer life is a daily commitment to a deepening of your experiential knowledge of the person of Christ. It includes especially the Sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation), some devotions, personal Scripture reading. Christ is present in the Eucharist: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is essentially there and that's where you go to be with Christ in a personal and real way. Going to Mass frequently, weekly confession, or just stopping by at a church to with him there in the Eucharist are necessary steps of in a true prayerlife. Also, talking to a spiritual director about your vocation is another way to meet Christ personally. These are all means to continue the echo of the encounter we had with Christ and fortify the conviction of our calling.
Conversation: Lord, I want to deepen my friendship with you, for it to become deep and lasting. I will dedicate time every day to be with you. I don't want to forget my encounter with you. I want my love for you to be strong and fresh, something that strengthens and encourages me. I want to live my life for you. Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will. Just send me.
1. How have I prepared the soil of my heart to receive God's grace? Am I attentive and searching for God's will like John and Andrew?
2. When was my first real encounter with Christ? Has it left a definitive mark on my soul and have I continued to deepen my experiential knowledge of Christ?
3. How have I done my part to continue building my friendship with Christ by prayer and the sacraments? Is my prayer and sacramental life sufficient enough for a real friendship with a real person, Jesus Christ?