When moments of revelation take place in our lives, we are called to respond.
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. —John 1:35-37
If you’re anything like me, the recent celebrations of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord have already faded into memory. Not only were Advent and Christmas the fewest number of days they could possibly be this year, I found myself continually distracted by the ceaseless news cycle and the “quick succession of busy nothings” of my own life (to borrow a phrase from Jane Austen). And now, here we are in Ordinary Time again, with a very adult Jesus in the early days of his ministry.
The Gospel assigned for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time opens with John the Baptist in conversation with some of his disciples. In a sense, John helps to form a bridge between Advent and Christmas and these first days of Ordinary Time. John will soon step into the shadows as the liturgy directs our focus to the mission of Jesus. But, for one last time it seems, John fulfills his mission as a prophet by sharing one final revelation—another epiphany, as it were—about who this Jesus is: “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
Although the Church traditionally celebrates three gospel events as “Epiphany”—the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus, and the wedding feast at Cana—this Sunday’s Gospel compliments these great mysteries because it helps focus our attention on the saving work of Jesus. In fact, the entire life of Jesus is itself a revelation, a manifestation of the Father’s love and grace.
As Saint John Paul II observed,
“The witness of John the Baptist still resounds today, almost 2,000 years after the event recounted in the Gospel: the Precursor points to Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah and invites us all to renew and deepen our faith in him. It is Jesus our Redeemer! His saving mission, solemnly proclaimed at the moment of his Baptism in the Jordan, culminates in the paschal mystery, when on the Cross he, the true Lamb sacrificed for us, frees and redeems humanity, every person, from evil and death.”
What is remarkable about this Sunday’s Gospel however, is that the text doesn’t end with John’s powerful statement about who Jesus is. It continues by recounting how John’s disciples respond to this moment of revelation: they walked away from John, a teacher whom we can assume they loved and admired, to follow Jesus. Moreover, Andrew didn’t keep this revelation to himself. Instead, he invited his brother Simon—soon to become “Cephas”—to come to Jesus, as well.
Like the story of Samuel recounted in the First Reading, the Gospel reminds us that when moments of revelation take place in our lives—when we are blessed with a glimpse of God’s grandeur—we are called to respond. For the boy Samuel, this meant learning to listen when God spoke to him. For Andrew, Simon, and the other disciples, their nascent understanding of who Jesus was inspired them to leave behind the lives they knew and to set out on a new path.
In a very real sense, this is the purpose of the moments of epiphany enshrined in the gospels. These glimpses of the divine within Jesus were not simply “aha!” moments. Rather, these mysteries invite a response. They challenge us to act on what has been shown to us. In a way, they are gifts that ask to be used. We can sense the urgency of this in the quick progression of the story. Jesus’ response to the question “Where are you staying?” is clear and concise: “Come, and you will see.” This is what Jesus is saying to each of us. We have seen his glory. Now is the time to act, to accept the Lord’s invitation to “come.”
What grace did you receive during the Christmas Season that you can continue to reflect upon in these days of Ordinary Time?Who has been a “John the Baptist” for you, helping you recognize God’s presence in your life?What is Jesus inviting you to do to become a more faithful disciple?
Words of Wisdom: “Let’s not forget that our God is a personal God and he loves each one of us with a personal love. He knows your name, he knows my name. He knows our “story,” perfectly.
And God calls each of us by name to come to him. To come to Jesus and walk with him. To put our hand in his hand and follow him …
So Jesus calls us to come and that’s an invitation. But I was thinking that it’s also a promise. Because he says Come, and you will see. It’s a promise because he says that if we walk with him, if we follow him, we will see the beautiful things that God wants to do — in our lives and with our lives.”—Archbishop Jose Gomez