Yes, it is time to anticipate the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. We offer a Scripture reflection by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. This content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection January 17 2021. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
The next day John was there again 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.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and 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 you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four 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).
John’s gospel is different from Mathew, Mark, and Luke, in a number of ways. For example, the gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke all record that it was Jesus who initiated the call to the first disciples. (Mathew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11) But John in this passage suggests that at least two of Jesus’ disciples came to join him at the suggestion of John the Baptist. John is also suggesting here that these disciples recruited others to investigate the possibility that Jesus might be the long-awaited messiah. John reports that Jesus changed the name of Simon to Cephas when he accepted him as a disciple. The other gospels record Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter after he has been a disciple for some time.
In the gospel text, John presents a pattern for how people come to Jesus.
- a believer tells another of Jesus
- a title is used
- the person is led to Jesus
- Jesus sees and confirms the person’s decision
- the conversion is sealed
That pattern unfolds twice in the gospel text for today. First, John the Baptist points out Jesus to two of his disciples. He uses the title “Lamb of God.” The two disciples go off to follow Jesus. Jesus sees them following, asks them what they are looking for, and invites them to stay with him. Because it is four o’clock and the sabbath has begun, there is a prohibition against travel. Jesus is inviting them to stay with him for the duration of the Sabbath. This pattern is repeated in the text when Andrew goes to tell his brother about Jesus.
Because John’s gospel is believed to have been written about 100 AD or later, a similar pattern would have been true for everyone in John’s community. None of them would have had a personal experience of Jesus as he taught in synagogues, preached to the crowds, taught his followers to pray, or argued with the religious leaders. No doubt some of the early Christians lamented not having had firsthand experience of being present when Jesus walked their roads and preached in their gathering places. Others might have even used it as an excuse for not being able to believe at all. For the early Christians to point to examples where the first disciples were led to Jesus by others would diminish the credibility of those kind of objections.
- Who would you list among your heroes?
- In what ways have any of them shaped how you try to live your life?
- To what extent do you know these women and men? Do you know any of them personally? Have you read how their lives unfolded?
- To what extent do you know the life and times of Jesus?
- Do you ever wish that you knew Jesus more thoroughly?
- What are some of the aspects of Jesus’ life and teaching that you try to emulate?
- Placing yourself in this gospel, picture yourself as one of John the Baptist’s disciples coming to Jesus. Jesus asks you what are you looking for. What do you hear yourself saying in response?
- Can you talk to God about your desire to be welcomed into God’s presence? Can you talk with God about your desire and your fear of that kind of intimacy, and about how that might change your life?