Do you remember last week’s gospel? It was Mark’s account of the Baptism of the Lord. This week we shift to the Gospel according to John and see Jesus moving from the waters of the Jordan to his first encounter with would-be disciples. We know they are going to say ‘yes’ and follow Jesus. Still, I have wonder what they were thinking, feeling, and ultimately, why did they say “yes.” We are told that Andrew believed he had found the Messiah. Still, I wonder what was going on inside – the hopes, the expectations, what it was like to meet Jesus…. and so much more.
I have always imagined that at some level they are restless for the things of God and are seeking God in their lives, hoping to see the promises of God fulfilled, to have a new life, a new home.
Last week, I talked about home and what we seek in our homes. I said that home is a place where, at the end of a long day at work or school, you can find solace, put your feet on the furniture, curl up on the couch, pet the dog, pause amidst the chaos of family and know you belong. The place you are accepted, loved, nourished, embraced. Home – where people wait for you, to hold you, praise you, challenge you, serve you, annoy you, delight you, and all the other facets of an intimate life joined together for a higher purpose. Joined for a higher purpose, a higher calling. This sense of belonging is what it means to be church.
In last week’s gospel Jesus plunged into the waters of John’s baptism to show that he was all in, pitched his tent with us, and took on our lives to show us that higher purpose, to let us know that together with him we belong to this new home, the Kingdom of God. I spoke of it this way – and I think this is at play when Andrew and the others meet Jesus: Jesus is the porch light that calls, the door that is always opened. He is the welcoming arms waiting to embrace us saying, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased. You belong.” It is in the encounter with Jesus that we intuit these things.
And we turn the page. Jesus has risen from the waters of the Jordan and this week has plunged into the messy, noisy, chaotic, beautiful, hopeful, alive, annoying, sinful, radiant family of humanity.
I have always said that the first ten words of a conversation inexorably set the tone of what follows, set up the understanding of how the following words will be understood and perceived. For Jesus the words are simple, “Come and see.” These are welcoming and intriguing – an open-ended invitation to take the plunge and cross the threshold of that opened door to a whole new family, a new home, a new place of belonging.
“Come and see.” These words, this invitation is at the heart of John’s Gospel. Words spoken to Andrew and Simon Peter. Turn the page and they will be spoken to Philip and Nathanael. It will be offered to the early disciples, to the Pharisee named Nicodemus, to the Samaritan women at the well, to the man born blind, to Peter and Pilate and even Thomas. It is offered to women and men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, powerful and vulnerable, people of all shapes and sizes and varieties that Jesus meets. And to each one, in one way or another, Jesus says the same thing: come and see. Come and see God do a new thing. Come and see as your future opens up in front of you. Come and see the grace of God made manifest and accessible and available to all. Come and belong.
Come and see. Each of the people came, saw, and then found their place in the ongoing work of salvation. Each went on to do their part by inviting others with the same warm, hospitable words that are the heart of being Christian and being church. It is a simple thing, offering an invitation to come and see what God is still doing in and through Jesus and the community of disciples; the ones who have chosen to belong. The invitation need not be quotation of Scriptures or the catechism. One does not need to be a silver-throated orator, a theologian, a moralist, or catechist. Be like Jesus. Be the porch light that beckons, the door that is always opened. Be the welcoming arms waiting to embrace. Be the one who says to others “Come and see.”
And then there is the catch. What will you say if they ask why they should “come and see?” You have to an answer. For me it is simple. Come and see Sacred Heart because we are family. This is home. It is here I am made new again, renewed again. It is here I am accepted, loved, nourished, embraced. It is here at Sacred Heart – where people wait for you, to hold you, praise you, challenge you, serve you, annoy you, delight you, and all the other facets of an intimate life joined together for a higher purpose.
It is here that I am discovering the truth of Mark Twain’s wisdom: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
And even to we who are already here: “Come and see.” Come and belong that you may more deeply believe, that you may find unending joy in ministry, and that may deeply know the peace and love of Christ. Find your place at home. Know what is yours to do.
“Come and see.”