Bible Reading for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: John 1:35-42
Once somebody asked a Jesuit, “Why do you Jesuits always answer a question with a question?” And the Jesuit answered, “Why not?”
Questions often shake us out of our complacency and open us up to thinking and growing.
It is interesting to note that in John’s Gospel, the first thing uttered by Jesus was a question. “What are you looking for?” That question of Jesus was so basic that it caught the two would-be disciples by surprise.
They didn’t know what to answer. So they too ask a question, which was a blind shot, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And Jesus warmly invites them, “Come and see.”
The question of Jesus was so basic and important, to ask the Jews of his time: “What are you looking for?” For many Jews were looking for a triumphal Messiah to lead them to overthrow the Roman power and put Israel as the supreme nation of the world, to restore the glory of King David and King Solomon.
Many others like the scribes and the Pharisees were looking for more subtle interpretations of the Laws. Others like the Sadducees were looking for greater wealth and political influence. Many others were just looking for favors, miracles, cures, etc..
“What are you looking for?” That’s a good question. Perhaps the two disciples were not clear as to what they were looking for. So they merely answered with a question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
It seems that the question changed the focus from “what” they were looking for to getting to know Jesus – “where” Jesus was staying. And Jesus gave them the warm gentle invitation, “Come and see.” That day with Jesus must have had such an impact on them that John remembers the time of day. And the meeting made him and Andrew burning with desire to bring their friends to Jesus.
They found their meaning in life. They had a mission in life.
Now, suppose Jesus asks us the same question, “What are you looking for” in life? What will be our answer? I don’t mean the textbook answer, but the answer from the deepest recesses of our hearts and desires.
According to some survey: the number one aspiration of today’s young people is wealth – money. Next come fame, popularity, and power. Among the top in the list are comfort and pleasure.
Many believe that their success and happiness in life depend on how much of these they acquire. I admit it’s hard to dispute those idols in life. But I know the happiest people are not the richest people. They are also not those who have so much stress, fears, and insecurity. They are not those who are bored and feel certain emptiness in life.
The happiest person I’ve met is Ka Mary, a market vendor from Buhi, Camarines Sur, who lives in a little hut by the roadside. In spite of her poverty, she spends time teaching people about God. She always wears a nice smile and seemed to be without any worry.
There’s also a fisherman in Daan Bantayan, Cebu who was so overjoyed when he got a pair of rubber slippers for Christmas. He said now he no longer had to borrow his wife’s slippers which were too small for him.
And what can we learn from the question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
Remember, the question shifted from seeking what Jesus could give – like an encyclopaedia of wisdom, or a manual for holiness, to the focus in the person of Jesus. They wanted to know Jesus. “Where do you stay.”
They wanted to spend time with him. They wanted to know Jesus. They may have had some ideas of Jesus from John the Baptist. Now they wanted to know Jesus more personally, to know him more intimately, which would lead them to love Jesus more deeply, and thereby would follow him more closely.
That too is our pattern of growth in our relationship with Jesus. We first learn about him from others. But there came a time when we encountered him more personally, through meditating and praying with the Gospels, and receiving him in the Sacraments and meeting him in the events of our daily lives.
As our personal knowledge of Jesus grows, our love for him will deepen and grow stronger. And we will become more and more like him.
So, when people ask, “What are you looking for?” our answer, like the disciples, would be – “We have found him! Come and see!”