Come and See - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Come and See - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

John the Baptist knew his role. He was to prepare a way for the Lord. He was to announce to the people that the promised Messiah was about to appear and the people needed to prepare themselves to receive him when he came. He knew, as he would later say, that once the Lord came he was withdraw into the background – “I must decrease that He may increase.” He knew that his mission was not about him, but about Jesus. He knew that there would come a time when he must hand over to the Lord. He knew that his disciples were to become disciples of Jesus.

The Gospel today expresses this. We are told by the evangelist St John that, as the Baptist was in the company of some of his disciples, he saw Jesus passing by. Without hesitation he drew their attention to Jesus. The Baptist used a striking phrase to describe Jesus, but one with deep significance: “Look, there is the lamb of God.” We use this phrase at Mass as the priest holds aloft the consecrated host just prior to Holy Communion – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The image of lamb is the image of a sacrificial lamb. The Jewish people regularly sacrificed lambs in an act of atonement for their sins. The image of the lamb of God would have been very telling. It was profoundly religious language embedded deep in the Jewish faith. The Baptist identified Jesus as the one whose sacrifice would take away the sins of the world.

John had directed his disciples towards Jesus and two of them followed after Jesus. Imagine the scene: by the River Jordan, John had been baptising and urging people to repentance. He had attracted disciples who had responded to his teaching. They were seeking a more spiritual and virtuous path for their lives. They were open to the religious realm, not satisfied with material concerns alone.

On John’s act of pointing out this man from Nazareth, they began to try to catch up with Jesus who was walking away from them. They must have felt somewhat uncertain as to what to say to him. What do you say to someone you do not know but has been recommended to you? But they were curious and acted on the Baptist’s recommendation.

Jesus turned around and asked the question, “What do you want?” It must have caught them by surprise. A little embarrassed, they stumble out with the rather facile question: “Where do you live?”

I imagine Jesus having a little smile on his face. He knows that they are curious about him and somewhat awkward in knowing how to speak to him. We may have had the experience of suddenly being about to meet a very important person and being lost for words. He knows that they are John’s disciples who have been directed to him, so he says, “Come and see.”

These are very significant words. Simply with these words Jesus invites them to get to know him; to get to know him in a personal way. There is no more personal way of getting to know someone than by being invited into their house to spend quality time with them. This was not just an invitation to have a quick conversation, but an invitation to really get to know him. It was a privileged opportunity. It would be like the Pope, for example, inviting us to spend time with him. Jesus is saying something very important here. He wants to spend time with them. He is willing to explore a genuine relationship with them. They were being offered something of great value.

This reveals something very important about our Catholic faith. It is based on a personal relationship. Christianity is not just a set of dogmas, a moral code, or various religious rituals. It is all of these things, of course, however, it is something far more basic and precious. It is about a relationship, a personal relationship, with God in Jesus Christ. Each of us are invited into this relationship. If you like, each of us receive the same invitation that those two disciples received: “Come and see.”

Now the first thing about responding to this invitation is that we are prepared to take the time to come and see. It will require something of us. We need to be willing to devote time to being with the Lord. We all know that the only real way to build a relationship is to give personal time to it. It means not just being in the presence of the other person but actually engaging in conversation with them. These days we see people sitting with each other, young people in particular, but they are looking not at each other, but at their mobile phones. This is not building their relationship. We have to be personally present to the other.

It is not enough, for example, just to come to Mass. We need to engage ourselves in the action of the Mass and really encounter the Lord truly present. Thus, we need not just to hear the readings but to listen to them, desiring to hear what the Lord may be saying to us. We need to engage personally with the prayers being said and not just leave them to the priest to say while our mind is elsewhere. We need to be conscious of the sacred mystery that is unfolding before us and not be thinking about what we will be doing later in the day. When we approach the altar to receive Holy Communion we need to be focused on what is about the happen. We respond, then, with deep faith when the priest says, “The Body of Christ.” Yes it is, amen.

And when we return to our places we enter into a deep time of personal communion with the Lord. This is to be a time of silence and peace. We shut out the world around us and give our total attention to the Lord who is truly with us.

“Come and see,” the Lord said, to the disciples of John. “Come and see,” the Lord says to us at this Mass. He wants us to come to know him. In coming to know him, we will come to love him. In coming to love him, we will desire to follow him in our daily life. He will become absolutely central to our existence. Jesus is not just to be on the margins of our life. He is not to be somehow an optional extra in our daily affairs. He is to imbue every aspect of our being and every dimension of our life.

Come and see and our hearts will be expanded with a true knowledge of God. Come and see and our lives will be immeasurably enriched by knowing God in a real and personal way. Come and see and we will live in presence of the Lord – not just at Mass but in every compartment of our lives.

Come and see and we will become true disciples of the Lamb of God, for this is what it means to be a Catholic.

Archbishop Julian Porteous