Jan. 19, 1997 Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Jn 1, 35-42
THE THEME of “looking” dominates today's Gospel in three distinct ways. We see it first in the actions of John the Baptizer, whose entire life was dedicated to disposing others to receive Jesus. We witness the depths of his devotion and vigilance today as he watches the passing Christ. John is moved to cry out: “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” John has spent his life watching for the coming of Jesus.
John the Baptizer's life is fulfilled once he has directed others to set their sights on the Lord. Even though it means losing the company of two of his own disciples, John rejoices because they now follow Jesus. To engage in this first type of “looking,” we must be willing to look away from past attachments, enticements and comforts. To look authentically at the Lamb of God requires a spirit of sacrifice that prepares us to share in the ultimate sacrifice the Lamb of God makes for us on the cross where he takes away the sins of the world.
Moreover, as John instructs his disciples to look upon and recognize Jesus, the Lord acts to give their lives new direction and meaning. Once the disciples begin to follow the Lamb, Jesus turns around, notices them, and asks: “What are you looking for?” They in turn ask: “Rabbi, where do you stay?” Jesus responds: “Come and see.” Jesus invites all those who regard him with attentiveness, trust and abandonment to look at the intimacy of his life more closely and personally.
This seeing of Jesus' dwelling leads the new disciples to stay with the Lord throughout the day. And as they remained with Jesus in the place “where he was lodged,” the disciples came to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Looking is a form of conversion.
This meeting transforms the disciples, and it propels one of them, Andrew, to rush to tell his brother Simon about their discovery. Andrew personally brings Simon to Jesus. Once in his presence, we are told that Jesus “looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Peter.’” Those who have looked away from worldly concerns and have seen Jesus where he lives are in turn “looked at” by the Lord. As with Peter, this gaze of Jesus sets us apart and blesses us with a new identity, a new name and a new purpose.
As the Lord looks upon us, we see in ourselves our truest value and dignity, which are a reflection of Jesus. And as the regard of Jesus claims us for himself, we cannot help but to respond with heartfelt devotion. That is why at Mass, before we receive Communion, the priest holds up the Host and proclaims: “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The more we keep our eyes, our heart and our soul fixed on the Lamb of God, the greater grows our happiness to be called to his supper.
Father Cameron is a professor of homiletics at St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.