THE WEEKEND after the feast of the Epiphany takes us back to Ordinary Time and the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Change can be a challenging experience for many people, which is why this week’s Scripture reflection is appropriate shortly after our celebration of the new calendar year.
In general, this is a time of reflection on the past year’s shortcomings and successes, which leads us to make new promises, new resolutions and to forge new paths at the beginning of this year. We are once again asked to focus on transitions, or changes, the challenges that they bring and our willingness to participate in God’s plan for better and more meaningful times ahead.
Understanding Our Role
Once again, we see John the Baptist guiding us to begin our journey with the Lord as he points out to his disciples “the Lamb of God.” His testimony allowed a transition to take place in his disciples: for them to recognize the superiority of Jesus, and thus follow Him. John understood who he was and who Jesus is. This gave him the wisdom to instruct his disciples to follow a new path leading them to encounter the Christ in a more intimate way. The example of John offers an interesting model of discipleship.
Now let us look at the significant role of the questions and invitation during the disciples’ encounter with the Lord. Jesus starts by asking the two disciples who are following Him what is it that they are looking for. They, in turn, ask Him a question about where He’s staying that evening. The response was an invitation to find out more.
Questions inspire conversations and invite participation. It encourages a response or further questions for clarification. Either way, questions engage people to get involved. This is what is going on here. Jesus doesn’t turn and preach a sermon, or tell them what they need, or give them some rules to live by. He presented a simple question: “What are you looking for?”
A Fundamental Question
It’s interesting to think about what it would be like if we, as members of the Church, were willing to ask each other what is it that we seek. It’s a fundamental question that applies to all of us. But all too often, we assume that we know what people are looking for. We might even think that it – whomever or whatever “it” may be – is the same as ours. Jesus doesn’t make that assumption.
The call of Jesus comes at a crucial time of change. Maybe the new disciples intended to invite the Lord over if He did not have any plans. Jesus’ enigmatic response, “Come, and you will see,” tells us otherwise. Again, no sermon. Not even much of an answer. Just an invitation. I think there is something for us to learn here. Jesus has already come for us. Are we willing to come to Him, like Samuel in this week’s first reading, and say, “Here I am, You called me. … Speak, for your servant is listening.”
If we already identify ourselves as disciples of Jesus, then our next consideration should be to evangelize. Our job is to invite people, like our Lord did, to “come and see.” Not to invite them to convert, or to join, or to confess. Our work as disciples of Christ is to meet people and share with them our faith, like the Apostle Andrew who testified to his brother Peter: “We have found the Messiah.”
It is through our witnessing and the tangible change in our own lives that others’ may encounter the Presence of God and be inspired to a conversion of heart, mind and soul.
From this point of view, we see evangelization not as forcing our own faith and beliefs down someone’s throat, nor threatening others to change, but rather sharing what we’ve seen and experienced while asking folks what they’re looking for, then inviting them to “come and see.”
Readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3: 3B-10, 19
Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Corinthians 6: 13C-15A, 17-20
John 1: 35-42
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Queens Village, and the coordinator of the diocesan Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.