Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today present us with two snapshots in our long story of faith. One is the emergence of the prophet Samuel and the other is the emergence of Jesus into his public ministry.
They seem like simple ordinary moments in life, perhaps Samuel’s encounter with God a bit more unusual but then all of us have had those moments when we are awakened during the night or from a nap and we are not sure if we have been dreaming, or someone in the house has called us or what that sound was that awakened us. However, Samuel’s encounter with God and Jesus’ encounter with Andrew and Philip are anything but simple and ordinary. They are extraordinary and profound!
If I might stray from my thoughts for a moment and address an issue that has come up in our world, our country this week. We might notice that in our reading from First Samuel by the end of the story it says that – “Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” Now, all words have an effect. Sometimes that effect is a good, lifegiving, hopeful, positive effect, other times the effect is not so good and every once in a while the effect of our words is profoundly negative. We have witnessed this last effect that I have mentioned often over the last few years but no more so than this week. When someone with great power, authority, leadership and influence disparaged so many people with one simple word.
We need to remember that words carry great power and as we learn today in our reading from First Samuel power for good because they flow, they have their origin in a relationship with God. As we learned this week words carry a very destructive power when God is left out of the equation. Our faith story calls us to a relationship with God that is based on respect for God, others and ourselves and one way we show, we live that respect is through the words we use. Perhaps, one challenge of our readings today is to ask ourselves the question from what power, what authority do we speak our words!
Getting back to my original thoughts about our readings today in our Gospel today we find a very simple encounter between, John the Baptist, two disciples, Andrew and Philip, and Jesus.
I am told when people begin the study of biblical Greek, the first text from the Bible they read is usually the Gospel of John. The reason is that John’s Gospel is written in very simple Greek. And the sentences are simple and straightforward in structure.
“What are you looking for?”
“Where are you staying?”
“Come and see.”
What could be simpler, right? The exchange between Jesus and the two disciples is ordinary. So why did John included it — especially when these words are the first ones we hear Jesus speak in this his gospel. If we read this exchange again slowly we will hear not a simple conversation profound exchange. Because once we read the whole Gospel, we will come to realize that John’s simple language is much deeper than it sounds at first.
“What are you looking for?” Is actually one of the deepest question a person can ask another. To paraphrase, “What—really, down deep—are you seeking as your life your life? Power? Pleasure? Wealth? Relief from loneliness? Relief from pain, hunger? Knowledge? Truth? Love?” How do you answer this question right now?
“Where are you staying?” This question is not the disciples asking Jesus his street address or his house number? The question that is really being asked, “Where do you come from, Master? What is the source of your life? Who — really, down deep — are you?” For the word translated “stay,” menein, means something deeper than what is your address. In the Gospel of John this word refers to a person’s source of being and ultimate purpose.
Jesus’ response, “Come and see,” really means when you know the whole story, “Follow me as a committed disciple and you will come to really see (understand and believe) in a whole new way.”
As we begin this ordinary time at the beginning of a new calendar year it is a great time, to pick up the Gospel of John and come and see who Jesus is and from where he derives his existence. It really will be an awakening, a way of seeing that leads to a whole new way to journey through this life in faith. Why not try it?
Have a great Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...