Tony Kayala, c.s.c.
As much as Jesus had to leave Nazareth (home and comfort, familiarity and family) to come to the Jordan (last Sunday) to be baptized, the disciples too have got to "leave" in order to "come" (No arrival without a departure). We are used to checking out a product before buying or a person before hiring or we "see" and choose (come). We check it out before stepping out. Abraham and other prophets have to leave for an uncertain task and territory; Abraham must first accept to sacrifice his only son, then he will see God's plan. He didn't doubt in God's promise of progenies like the sands and the stars even though the only son was going to be sacrificed! Joseph had to first accept Mary pregnant as she was and then he will see God's plan. Come so that you may see. Step in, walk in, follow me, leave behind ....so that you may see plans, actions, results for you. "Come" is an invitation and "see" is the promise. You can trust the Lord for his promises.
Then the uncertain, doubtful, denying Simons will have to become Cephases and solid rocks on which the Lord can build his Church.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listeningWhat does it mean to bear witness to Christ? It means like Samuel first to listen to God speaking to us and then to show, by our deeds and words, that Jesus is truly alive in our lives. Let us see how God often speaks to us.
Speak to me, O God: Come and See
I asked a poor man: "Please, speak to me of God.” and the poor man shared his tea with me.
I entreated the house; "Speak to me of God." and the door opened welcoming me.
I asked a child: "Speak to me of God" and the child smiled at me.
I told a farmer: "Speak to me of God.” and the farmer showed me his standing crops.
I begged nature: "Speak to me of God.” and nature decked herself with luscious beauty.
I asked my friend: "Speak to me of God.” and my friend caressed me warmly.
I asked a nightingale: "Speak to me of God.” and she filled the air with silvery tunes.
I asked a soldier: "Speak to me of God.” and in shame, the soldier threw away his weaponry.
I besought a suffering man: "Speak to me of God.” and I saw in his eyes a quivering tear of accepting joy.
I asked a fountain: "Speak to me of God.” and the fountain merrily spilled out its crystal water.
I begged my mother: "Please, speak to me of God. " and she stamped a soothing kiss on my forehead.
I entreated my enemy: "Speak to me of God. " and he, in forgiveness, stretched out his hand to me.
I asked the voice: "Speak to me of God.” but the voice could not find words. It remained silent.
At last, I asked the setting sun: "Speak to me of God.” and the sun mysteriously set down and left me in darkness.
But next day, at dawn, when I opened the window of my room, mischievously with his warmth he kissed me on both my cheeks.
And finally as the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore put in his poem so beautifully and touchingly the Lord comes to knock at our doors, at our hearts, at our lives not only to invite us to share his mission, to wake us up from our slumbers, but also to soothe and comfort us, to wipe away our tears and to sit with us in our losses and grieving.
Every moment and every age,
Every day and every night he comes, comes, ever comes.
Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,
but all their notes have always proclaimed,
`He comes, comes, ever comes.'
In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes.
In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of clouds he comes, comes, ever comes.
In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart,
and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.
-Tony Kayala, c.s.c.
On this Sunday, every year, there is an extract from St John’s gospel, taken from the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, which serves as a preliminary to the continuous reading which will begin on the following Sunday.
In this passage we have St John’s account of the calling of the first disciples. It differs markedly from the account given in the synoptic gospels, and has its own richness and depth. The passage is in three sections:
– verses 35 – 36: The testimony of John the Baptist: admire the marvelous humility of the precursor, model for all those involved in giving guidance to others. You might also like to spend some time reflecting on the famous title of Jesus, Lamb of God.
– verses 38 – 39: The encounter between the disciples and Jesus is simple and down-to-earth, but also very deep. Let it remind you of meetings that have affected you or people you know.
– verses 40 – 42: To understand the power of the story, you must be aware of the significance of names in the Bible. A person’s name indicates the nature of the person, who the person is deep down. In giving Peter a new name, therefore, Jesus invites him to rise to new possibilities. It is important that Jesus had to “look hard” before he could discover what this new name should be.
Lord, we thank you for people who guided us but did not try to possess us:
parents, teachers, spiritual guides, friends.
For a time we stood with them.
Very simply, like John the Baptist,
they said to us, “Look, there is the one you should follow,”
and hearing this we followed that person.
Lord, there are many people who want to do great things for you,
to excel in mighty deeds that will win them glory.
But from time to time someone comes into our lives
and just by looking at them we can say, “Look, there is a lamb of God,”
someone who is willing to do the humble things,
to be patient and to endure.
That is Jesus passing by.
“It is time to realise that neither socialism nor good-neighbourism in no respect can be
produced by bayonets, tanks or blood.” …Edward Shevardnadze
Lord, we pray for leaders.
So often they think they can win our allegiance
with threats or great promises and propaganda.
Sometimes even Church leaders think like that.
Teach them that to win people’s trust is a deep process.
They cannot force it on us.
We must start following them ourselves
and only then should they ask “What do you want?”
They will always find that what we want to know is how they are
in the truth and honesty of their homes.
They must come straight with us, invite us to come and see,
and then be willing to have us stay with them.
Only after that will we be able to say, “Yes, we have found our Leader.”
“Often I go off in dreams about living and being with the poor;
what the poor need, however, is not my dreams but my concrete presence.” …Jean Vanier
Lord, we are like Jesus only when we turn to those following us
and invite them to comes and see where we live
and then let them stay with us the rest of the day.
Lord, forgive us that we have allowed all transactions to become
occasions for making money,
even such deeply human encounters as healing a sick person.,
counselling those in distress, or protecting the rights of the oppressed.
These meetings should be like what happens
between Jesus and his first disciples –
human beings going to visit a leader and spending a day with him
and then saying to their friends, “We have found someone who can save us.”
Lord, like many other societies around the world,
we have a tendency to categorize people.
We characterize whole groups as lazy, or incompetent, or dishonest
because they belong to a particular ethnic group;
or because they attend a certain kind of school;
or because they live in a particular part of the city.
Send us people like Jesus who will look deeply at others, dispelling all prejudices,
and will say to them: “Society has called you by one name;
from now on you shall be known as free and creative people.”
Introduction to the Celebration
We have assembled here because each of us has heard, in one way or another, the call of Jesus to come to him and see the life he offers us. And because we have heard that call to become disciples, we are now thanking the Father for his love in creating us, in caring for us, and sending his Son among us. This theme of being called to be disciples runs through our reflections and prayers today.
Now, let us reflect that we have been called by Jesus to be disciples, let us ask for the strength to continue in his way, and let us ask pardon for those times when we have followed other paths and other ways.
1. Today we set out on a journey of remembering. We do this by beginning to read a set of readings from the gospels that will take us from now until, roughly, the end of November. This journey will be in two parts: between today and the beginning of Lent, and then second part will begin after Easter and end with the Feast of Christ the King. It is a journey that is supposed to give us a sense of the mystery of Jesus being recalled among us each Sunday so that we as a community can get a better grasp of his message of forgiveness, of the love of the Father for us, and of how we can grow to be his disciples.
2. Today we open this journey by reminding ourselves that we are Christians because Jesus has called us to be his disciples —and we do this reminding by telling the story of the call of just two of the disciples: the brothers Andrew and Peter.
3. However, for many of us this sense that we are called is not something that we feel. We are Christians, many of us think, simply as a matter of geography, a simple accident of birth. For many of us, we have never thought about any other religion or indeed that being a Christian was a definite act of choice: it just came to us as part of the fabric of life, like our language or our traditions of dress or our sense of nationality. We are, very often, cradle Christians. For us, the event of baptism was not so much a great moment of decision as a social event linked to a new baby when we got ‘christened’ —in the sense that we then formally were given our name.
4. But while we may have inherited our religion as a matter of geography — and that was true also of Jesus and Andrew and Peter — that is not the same as having a relationship with God. This relationship is always a matter of adult commitment. It is something that involves us mind and heart and soul.
5. This relationship is one of becoming disciples: followers and students of Jesus, people who share their lives with Jesus, people who wish to know where and how he lives.
6. This normally does not come about all of a sudden: like most of our relationships it is built up over time, it is a process of getting to know ourselves and getting to know him as the source of truth, the source of life, and as the way to the Father.
7. Today we hear the call to begin a process of discipleship: ‘Come and see.’ We are here, ready indeed to share the table of Jesus, but also in need to set out afresh in the commitment of discipleship.
The invitation to ‘come and see’ is for some of us a call to begin an adult relationship of discipleship and then let it grow over the coming months through prayer, sharing, and Christian action.
8. The invitation to’come and see’ is for others of us a call to revive an adult relationship of discipleship and then to revive over the coming months a life of prayer, sharing, and Christian action.
8. Each of us is called to be a disciple of the one Lord, and we are all made one with him in baptism, but what that discipleship demands of each of us, our vocations, is something that is specific and unique to each of us. That each of us has this unique, non-transferable vocation is something that should be a cause of our thanksgiving for us at this Eucharist; that each of us still has other aspects of that unique vocation to discover should be one of our petitions at this Eucharist.
Gospel notes : John 1:35-42
The gospel of John offers a different perspective when it comes to certain aspects of Jesus’ life and the response he evokes. This is very clear in today’s gospel text which tells of the call of the first disciples. In the other gospels, Jesus simply says ‘Follow me’ and they do (see next Sunday). John, however, describes something of a process whereby firstly they come to know something of Jesus through the word of the Baptist who calls him the Lamb of God. They follow behind Jesus, interested to know where he lives and Jesus in turn invites them to ‘Come and see.’ As the fourth gospel progresses it becomes clear that this invitation is actually a call to discipleship, to embark on a journey of faith during which they will come to a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to be with him. This becomes very clear in the stories of the Samaritan Woman (chapter 4) and the Man born Blind (chapter 9) where each of them is brought gradually to a point of recognition and faith.
The idea of a relationship of trusting faithfulness underlies the notion of faith in the Bible, and everything else including our morality flows from this. we can learn a great deal from both Samuel and Paul about a morality based on the scriptures. For these men, all their actions arose out of their relationship with God. This was the determining factor when they asked themselves the question ‘What should I doT If today many people fail to understand the demands of a Christian morality, could it be that like the boy Samuel they ‘have as yet no knowledge of the Lord’? If our approach to morality is based solely on our own wants and needs, then Paul’s statement that ‘You are not your own property, you have been bought and paid for’ will make no sense to us. Christian living is really only possible when we have come to know Christ and have responded to the invitation to ‘Come and see.’
Donal Neary SJ
Good things take time
We need time for the best things in life to come to fruition. Love grows in marriage, friendship and family over many years. It has significant moments but often it cannot be rushed. Jesus’ disciples were invited to stay with him the rest of that day to get to know him; it would not happen immediately at the river. ‘Rest of the day’ would mean a very long time.
How well do I know Jesus? How much do I know about him? These are two different types of knowledge, like I can know everything about a person and not know the person.
What do I find out in this reading about Jesus? He is one who does not force himself on people – he asks ‘what do you want?’ He likes an honest answer. He looks into people and sees more to them, like he did with Peter and gave him a new name. He saw faithfulness in Peter even though others would see weakness.
When we read a gospel story, we can pause here and there and ask, what is new in this story about Jesus? Or what is new about myself? The gospel is always new. It is a treasure chest to bring out new aspects of the truth of Jesus each time we read it.
In prayer he has time for each of us. They stayed with him for a long time and he does not seem to hurry them. The lord is not in a hurry with us in any way except to love us.
In John’s proclamation of Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” the age of the prophets ends and the era of the Messiah begins.
Jesus’ invitation to Andrew to “Come and see” so moves Andrew that he invites his brother Simon Peter to “come and see” for himself. This is the first of three episodes in John’s Gospel in which Andrew introduces someone to Christ: Andrew brings to Jesus the lad with the five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish (John 6: 8-9) and it is Andrew who asks Jesus to meet the Greeks who have requested, “Sir, we would like to meet Jesus.” (John 12: 22)
The challenge of the call to discipleship/prophecy is to discern and respond to that call within our own lives, in the context of our own experiences.
Jesus calls us to “come and see”: to realize the presence of God in the goodness and generosity around us; and to follow him: to focus our attention on the needs of others rather than our own wants, to find purpose in bringing joy into the lives of others rather than in the pursuit of the things the world deems as important.
To be an authentic disciple of Jesus means to look at the world with a vision of hope, to recognize the dignity of every human being as a son and daughter of God, to joyfully take on the challenge of bringing justice and peace into our own Jerusalems and Nazareths.
“Look,” his dad said. The boy stopped, bent down and watched the spider. He was soon captivated as the little spider continued to spin its silken web between the branches of a small tree. His dad explained that spiders are not to be feared, that spiders are good for the environment, protecting us and the plants we depend on for food by consuming disease-carrying insects.
The boy now saw the spider with entirely new eyes. He no longer saw an ugly insect but was awestruck by the spider’s unseen work in creation; the boy’s fear of the spider had been transformed into understanding and respect. The boy had come to realize the little spider’s connection to his own life.
The youngster had learned to behold . . .
From Fr. Jude Botelho
Many of us have questions that trouble us from time to time and we seek answers to them from significant people in our lives. Of course there are superficial questions and others that sometimes are a matter of life and death. Have we brought our questions to the Lord and have we ever tried to listen to Him as he answers us? Or would we rather not ask him for fear of the answer? For that matter, have we listened to what the Lord is saying to us, asking of us? Could our prayer be: ‘Speak Lord, I’m really listening!’
Have an attentive weekend, listening to Him!
Someone is always listening...
In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there is a circular gallery where any spoken sound bounces back from the hard smooth stone walls. If you put your ear close to the wall, you can hear what is even whispered on the other side of the wall, many meters away. Many years ago a poor shoemaker whispered to his beloved that he could not marry her because he could not afford to buy any raw material for his work and his business was on the verge of ruin. The poor girl wept as she listened to the sad news. A gentleman on the other side of the gallery more than sixty meters away heard the story and the shoe maker’s whispered prayer, and decided to do something about it. The gentleman followed the shoemaker out of St. Pauls and after finding where he lived, had some leather sent to his shop. Naturally the young man was delighted. He made good use of the gift, and his business prospered and he was able to marry the girl of his heart. It was not until a few years later that he learned the name of his unknown friend. It was Prime Minister William Gladstone of Great Britain.
From –‘The Sunday Liturgy’
The gospel continues the theme of the manifestation or epiphany of Jesus, as John the Baptist points out and directs his own disciples to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God!” John and Andrew, the disciples with their teacher, John the Baptist, were at the Jordan river, where the people had long ago crossed over into the Promised land. When the disciples heard from John the name of the one passing by –The Lamb of God, they understood enough to follow Jesus. Their decision to leave John and follow Jesus must have been a struggle. They followed Jesus respectfully at a distance behind. Jesus turned and asked what they were looking for. Through history, people have come to Jesus for a variety of reasons. People still come to Jesus for a variety of reasons. Why are we looking for Jesus? What do we want from him? Andrew and John followed Jesus asking where he stayed. They were more than curious, they wanted to know him and were attracted to him. Jesus’ answer was a kind invitation: “Come and see.” The experience of staying with Jesus was so memorable that John even adds the time of the day at which they met Jesus –four in the afternoon. Andrew too was so taken up with the encounter that he could wait to come home and share what he had experienced with his brother Simon. “We have found the Messiah” he said, and took Simon to meet the Lord. Jesus looked hard at Simon and called him by name. “You are Simon son of John; you will be called Cephas-meaning the Rock.” The encounter of Simon changed not only his name but his life.
“What’s your profession?”
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
I need a person who is on the alert…
Waiting in a steamship office to be interviewed for the job of a wireless operator, a group of applicants filled the room with such a buzz of conversation that they were oblivious to the dots and dashes that began coming over the loudspeaker. About that time another man entered and sat down quietly by himself. Suddenly he snapped to attention, walked into the private office, and a few minutes later came out smiling with the new job. “Say,” one of the group called out, “how did you get in ahead of us? We were here first.” “One of you would have gotten the job,” the successful applicant replied, “if you had listened to the message from the loudspeaker.” “What message?” they asked
Called by name
You may remember the story of Helen of Troy. According to legend this beautiful queen was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets. She didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her homeland, friends didn’t give up on her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day while wandering through the streets, he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands? He pursued. She held out her hands in front of her, and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember? She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her friend and wept. She discarded the tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. -God searches for you in the same way. He calls you by name. He uses every method possible to look for you and try and convince you of your worth to him.
Brian Cavanaugh in ‘The Sower’s Seeds’
An unfamiliar voice
In his sermon, “When God Speaks,” Dr. Keith Wagner says the following: “I am sure that everyone has seen the television commercial about E.F. Hutton. There is always a crowd of people and two people are together when one of them says, “Well my broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says…..” At that point there is a huge hush over the crowd and everyone turns to listen. Then the advertisement concludes with the phrase, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” What about when God speaks? Is anyone listening? Does God have the same credibility that E.F. Hutton has when it comes to important messages? God is actually speaking to us all the time. The problem is that we are not listening. It was the same in Samuel’s time. Samuel was a future leader of the faith community. God needed Samuel to listen. No one else was listening at that time as we hear, “for the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” Is the word of the Lord rare in these times? Or is God not heard because no one is listening? Is it difficult to listen to God in these times simply because there is too much noise? Samuel heard the voice of God , only because he slept near the arc of the covenant. When we are willing to stay close to the church, to ‘hang out’ where the word of God is spoken, we give God an opportunity to speak.
Ken Abraham in ‘Designer Genes’
The Quest for Jesus
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’
Discovering God’s plan for me
3. Come and see the heavens opened.
Harding said that King's detractors like to point out that he was a human being, that he had faults, human foibles. He was certainly not a saint, Harding points out. He made mistakes in judgment. He put his marriage to the test. He also suffered from human frailties, like anxiety and depression.
He comes to us as he came to his disciples, and says to us, "Follow me." To "follow me" means, identifying with the poor and the oppressed, loving the sinner, and living sacrificially for others in this world, taking up your cross. That is the sole qualification for everybody to be his disciple - that you will take up your cross.
Martin Luther King understood that, I think, probably better than anybody else in our time. Like all historical figures, he will be interpreted from different perspectives. But the way he would want to be interpreted is that he was a "servant of Christ."
Paul E. Flesner,
Fairy tales are stories of transformation, and that's what happened to these simple people we call the disciples. If you took the disciples and brought them all together into one room, you would never in your wildest imagination guess by looking at them that this weak-looking pack of ordinary folks could change the world. But they did. The disciples changed the world because it was to them that the secret of the universe was first revealed.
Fred Everybody, Thomas Somebody, Peter Anybody, and Joe Nobody were neighbors, but not the type that most would want to know. They were odd people, troublesome, and difficult to understand. The way they lived their lives was a shame. These men all went to the same church, but most would not have wanted them as parishioners. Everybody went fishing on Sundays or stayed home and spoke with his friends. Anybody wanted to worship, but he was afraid that Somebody would speak with him. Thus, guess who went to church - that's right, Nobody. Actually, Nobody was the only decent one of the lot. Nobody did the parish census; Nobody joined the parish council. One day there was a call in the bulletin for people to apply for a position as a teacher in the religious education program. Everybody thought Anybody would apply; Anybody thought Somebody would apply. So, guess who applied? You are right - Nobody! My friends, let's not be an everybody, somebody, or anybody. Rather, let us truly strive to be a nobody. In such a way we empty ourselves so we can be filled with the amazing power of Christ, who died to set us free and, thus, will always be our brother, friend, and Lord.
I remember a story about a woman who brought home a plaque that said, "Prayer changes things." She put it in her kitchen, above her sink. Her husband came home, and said, "Take that down, please." She said, "Why? Don't you believe in prayer?" He said, "Yes, but I don't believe in change."
That is the problem with big, establishment-type institutions. But recently there has been, in fact, a rush to change, almost a panic on the part of some churches. There have been some changes around here, too. I hope that you have noticed that. There will be more. But change should be determined by what our mission is. Mission is what ought to drive the change. We should not do things because other churches do them, not even if they are successful in other churches. Change should come only to enhance our mission.
A few years ago a church located in a large city decided to turn its gymnasium into a night shelter for homeless people. Every winter there were reports that some of these people, condemned to sleep out in the open, had frozen to death, and so the church made the warmth and safety of its building available without charge. Each evening during the winter, volunteers from the church would spend the night in the shelter, providing food, clothing, and lodging for as many of the homeless as the building would hold. Almost without exception, the volunteers reported that the experience of spending the night with these people from the streets had been far more than an act of dutiful charity. The volunteers had found their own faith strengthened, their own reliance upon the grace of Christ reinforced by the experience.
Thomas G. Long,
The Man with Two Umbrellas
Now, let me close with the story of the man with two umbrellas. Dr. Gordon Targerson, a Baptist pastor in Worcester, Massachusetts, was crossing the Atlantic by ship some years ago. He noticed on several occasions a dark-skinned man sitting in a deck chair reading a Bible. One day Dr. Targerson sat down beside him and said, "Forgive my curiosity. I'm a Baptist minister. I notice you are a faithful Bible reader. I'd like to meet you." After introductions, the dark-skinned man said, "I am Filipino. I was born into a good Catholic home. I went to the United States as a young man to study in one of your fine universities, intending to become a lawyer. On my first day on campus, a student dropped by to visit. He welcomed me and offered to help in any way he could. Then he asked me where I went to church. I told him I was Catholic. He explained that the Catholic church was quite a distance away, but he sat down and drew me a map. I thanked him and he left.
"As we walked along I asked him about his church. He said that his church was just around the corner. So, I suggested that we go to his church this Sunday, and then to mine the following Sunday. He agreed…
However, somehow I felt so much at home in his church that I never got around to finding mine. After four years, I felt that Almighty God was leading me into the ordained ministry; rather than, the law! I went to Drew University Seminary and was ordained a Methodist minister. Then, I returned to the Philippines to serve in a Methodist parish. My name is Valencius - Bishop Valencius - Bishop of the Methodist Church in the Philippines."
As I start to take my seat, now, understand that the hero of that story is not the Methodist Bishop - important as he is - the hero is that anonymous young man with "Twin Umbrellas!" Whether they had ended up in the Methodist or the Catholic Church didn’t really matter! Go all the way back to the beginning of Christian and church history - and, you will find that unamed woman or man with "Twin Umbrellas" behind almost every Christian convert - that person with a winsome faith who builds a bridge of friendship with another person - and, across that bridge walks a "Living Christ" who claims another soul as His own!
Finally, as I sit down, know that you too can be that person with "Twin Umbrellas" - you can be like Andrew - you can be like Philip - you can tell someone else to "come and see" - just come and see - that is all that I ask - and, my brothers and sisters, you will learn that something
Nathanael learned this. He was skeptical at first but he was transformed. He became a follower because Phillip invited him.
Let me ask you: What was it that Phillip saw in Christ that moved him to follow, that stirred him so to invite his friend Nathanael. Come and see what? What did Phillip see in Jesus of Nazareth? I want to attempt to answer that question this morning. Come and see what?