There is passage from St. John’s Gospel that is one of my favorites – chapter 1, verses 35-39. It was first explained to me over 20 years ago by a then young Franciscan priest. As time passes, it becomes more and more meaningful to me.
The passage begins with John the Baptist watching Jesus walk by, long after John had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.
“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
John was telling his disciples that Jesus was the one they were to follow now. I often wonder what those two disciples made of the term, “Lamb of God”. It was probably not a term they ever heard used to describe the Messiah, or anyone for that matter. “What does this mean… that this Jesus is the Lamb of God” must have been going through their minds.
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
When John the Evangelist tells us that “they followed Jesus”, he does not mean they were following Jesus as his disciples, but were literally following Jesus has we walked along, like two detectives following a suspect. They followed Jesus at a distance, hiding behind trees and houses; stopping at a vegetable cart pretending to shop for cabbage – they did not want to be noticed by Jesus. They were not yet sure what to make of Him. Who is He? What is He like? What is His mission? What would He ask of them?
We can be this way. When we sit in the back of church, for example. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want to draw the pastor’s attention to us, lest he ask something of us. We fear getting too close to God. What will He ask of me? What will He make me give up?
Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?”
Well of course, being God, Jesus knew He was being followed. So after a while of letting them think they were fooling Him, Jesus turns around and confronts them. I don’t know what kind of expletives they had 2000 years ago, but I imagine the two disciples reaction to being found out was something like, “Oh crap! Now what do we do?” Despite their best efforts, they’ve been found out.
Now, Jesus does not ask, “what do you want” or “why are you following me”, but instead asks them what they “seek”.
What a simple yet profound question. When we go to Mass, what do we seek? Not just a good parking spot or place to sit. But really, what is it we are looking for when we come to Mass? Or anytime we go to Jesus, in prayer or adoration for instance, what do we seek?
And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
They ask the question we all ask Jesus. Where are you going? Where are you going to ask me to go? “Perhaps we can get some information before we commit to Him” they think. A five year plan is all we want. Tell me what is in store for me if I follow You?
He said to them, “Come and see.”
Jesus does not give out five year plans. He knows that first we need to walk with Him. We need to spend time with Him. We need to come to know Him. Only then can we understand what He asks of us. Only then can we truly love Him. The two disciples would soon begin to realized this.
They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
What will your answer be when Jesus asks, “What do you seek?”
And when He says, “come and see”, what will you do?