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The first disciples

Gospel Reading: Jn 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” – which translated means Teacher – , “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.

It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” – which is translated Christ – Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” – which is translated Peter.

Among my cherished memories in grade school and high school were the times when classmates would invite us to their homes – to celebrate a birthday or barrio fiesta, or simply to enjoy the fruits in season in their backyard. In so doing, we not only filled our stomachs but also came to know more about our host-classmates and their families. In turn, I would invite some of them (classmates) to our home, especially during our barrio fiesta. Surely, these were also opportunities for them to know me and my family a little bit more.

Jesus’ invitation to the first disciples – “Come, and you will see” – has become proverbial or formulaic for vocation promotion. It is Jesus’ response to the curiosity of Andrew and his companion, asking him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” What happens that afternoon (around 4:00 p.m., the tenth hour) – what Jesus shows them, what Jesus offers them, etc. – we do not know. We are told that “they stayed with him that day” (v 39). The Greek verb menō (“to stay”) is a very Johannine verb that apparently means more than simply “staying” or being physically in a place. It means spending time and sharing life with another person. As a result, each one is enriched and knows the other better.

This reminds us of Jn 15 where Jesus likens himself to the “vine” and his disciples to the “branches” that must “remain” in the vine to survive and bear much fruit.

One of the apparent maladies of our time is the weakening of commitment among friends, among spouses, of people towards their country, of believers towards their God. Many find it difficult to stay, to remain, to be committed.

Everyone seems moving frantically. As a result, the “roots” of relationships do not deepen; they remain superficial and weak.

There was a time in the seminary – before the age of cellphones and the internet – when seminarians would find time to gather after meals in their recreation rooms or patios and simply “waste time” with one another. Nowadays they rush their meals and head straight to their rooms to waste time with their computers or cellphones!

No more time for personal conversations, for sharing of life – things that are essential to formation.

Jesus shows us that part of being truly human is spending time with one another. May we not lose sight of this valuable human experience so as to be rooted in one another and in God.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.