Do you recall the moments when another person invited you into their life and into a relationship you have treasured ever since? Think of the day you met the person who would become your husband or wife. Do you remember it? Or what about your best friend who has been a friend for life. Or a valued colleague. Do you recall the day you met? How some details may be hazy but others are remarkably clear, with amazing detail.
You remember perhaps what you were wearing or the quality of the light or a phrase that was said. The significant thing is that you value the relationship, whatever sort of relationship it is, beyond words. And when that happens, you remember such interesting details.
Today, we see that moment happen for two of the disciples when they enter into a relationship with Jesus that would change their lives forever. They are with John the Baptizer as his movement is winding down. They and he may very well be discussing , probably sadly, the decline of this great movement, wondering why it is declining and asking where is God in this. As they are talking Jesus passes by. It is a measure of John’s greatness that he points them to Jesus, unselfishly and courageously.
Whether they follow his suggestion immediately, we don’t know, but at some stage they take their leave of John and set out after Jesus, probably a little wary because they don’t know him, perhaps even a little embarrassed, wondering how all this is going to go. Suddenly Jesus turns around, looks at them, and asks a simple disarming question: “What are you looking for?”
I like to think they were thrown by the question.
- It’s not an easy question to answer.
- Try it yourself: “What am I really looking for in life?”
- It is a deep question, defying any casual off-hand answer.
We can’t help but smile at their response: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” they ask, wriggling out of an embarrassing moment.
- When we don’t know what to say, we blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, and often regret it..
- Yet Jesus says nothing that would further embarrass them.
- Instead, he takes them at their word and issues a warm and easy invitation: Come and see.
It is a wonderful moment,
- a moment of ease, graciousness, sensitivity,
- a moment of natural hospitality.
- In the deepest sense they are being welcomed in.
A tribute to the richness of the welcome is that they “stay all day”. An even greater tribute to the relationship that subsequently developed is that years later one of them remembers, “it was about four o’clock in the afternoon.” This is exactly how it is when we recall an unforgettable experience in our lives, particular nuances are etched sharply in our memory.
So we have shared a moment in Jesus’ life when he first changed the lives of two people for ever.
But there is more in the story for us. It lies in the awkward question that Jesus asks: “What are you looking for?” How do we respond?
- Is success as it’s generally understood enough for us?
- Are we satisfied with the relationships in our lives?
- Are we happy with the contributions we’re making to the good of the world?
What are you looking for?
Are you looking for some place, some zone of blessedness, peace, compassion, and health, a place where we experience the world in a way that begins to grasp at the transcendence in this space, a way that points to the One
- the one we come to know in word and sacrament,
- music and liturgy,
- fellowship and service.
That one, our Gospel suggests, is already searching for you,
- That one calls you into a life in which you can become not only a seeker of God but a seeker of others with God,
- a life in which you serve as an agent of love and justice, healing and hope in the world.
- I’m thinking of Martin Luther King Jr., of course, but also of you
- This search and call are not only about being found and saved.
- They are about a new life in which, as Jesus did, we offer life and hope to others.
“What are you looking for?” If it’s Jesus himself doing the asking, our reply might be to way, well, I’m not really sure, maybe I need more time to consider…. And I wonder if we mightn’t hear him say, “Come and see.”
- Come and see,
- act on what you wonder.
God’s truth is not ultimately a riddle to be solved; it is a life to be lived, a thing done.
I think it was Samuel Johnson who said that the business of life is drawing adequate conclusions from inadequate information. That is why the ‘come and see’ method is so essential. We discover great truth by acting on the little truths we already know.
So, come and see.