Come, see, believe, witness
Some years ago, in conversation, I mentioned the Cheshire cat (a character from Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice through the Looking Glass) to a friend of mine. She recoiled and exclaimed, “You mean ‘Shay Shay’ Cat!” It’s a good thing that Jesus and John do not have similar communication problems with the disciples in this week’s gospel.
The modern communication model to which we have grown accustomed is made up of a message, a sender, a receiver and finally, feedback. We don’t see that complicated model in this week’s passage, however.
John simply has to let the two disciples know that Jesus is the Lamb of God and secondly, Jesus invites them to “Come and see” where he lived. That is all it takes to create the first priests of the Church. The faith that they displayed is simply fascinating.
Samuel and Eli also displayed this same keen faith. God’s communication to them is in the form of a dream. He spoke to the wise men in a dream and also on another occasion, to Joseph in a dream. Our normal human communication is in the state of being conscious. But, there is a higher level of understanding with communication with God.
Last week, we experienced the revelation of the Incarnation. All were invited but the message was received eagerly by the wise men in contrast to the slowness of Israel. This week, we again see the enthusiastic faith of the neophytes to accept the gospel.
Our priests are our examples of faith in our world today because they are the result of that vocare or vocation. The disciples in today’s gospel receive a call. Samuel receives a call. We all, in turn, receive a call to conversion continually.
It is okay as well if we do not fully understand the call. Samuel does not, yet, he offers himself to the Lord. And, so can we. We can also play the role of the witness to others—just as Eli does for Samuel, and as John the Baptist does for his disciples.
My stewardship journey began very early in my life. My parents were actively involved in the Church and this meant that I also had to be around them and share in their service. I could not be left at home alone so I was ever present at choir practice learning the melodies of hymns and memorising the lyrics. This happens in all families—the involvement of one family member means that the entire family is included.
The result of my early involvement in my parents’ activities was that it became very comfortable and natural for me to be around Church and Church-related activities. I was also able to learn about the ministry in which they were involved at the time.
When I actually became involved in ministry myself, the sacrifice of time was less onerous for me. I have been able to work well alongside people who were many years my senior and those who were many years my junior. I owe thanks to my parents, and their parents who passed on this legacy.
The spark that is created by one person answering the call ensures that generations to come become engulfed by that fire to serve. Answering that call means that numerous others also become part of the body of Christ.
This is what happened similarly with the disciples. Andrew met his brother, Peter and this introduction led to him being named Cephas (pronounced ‘kay-fas’)—the foundation of the Church.
The theme of priesthood is again present. Frankincense, the gift of the wise men from last week’s reading, points to priesthood as well. The disciples get the call but what must be understood is that they are also searching for it.
My parents, like Andrew was to Simon Peter, were my missionaries. They spread the Good News by their example. Whether you realise it or not, many people depend on you to spread the Good News.
What message is God communicating to us? Have faith. Serve me by serving my people. Feed my sheep. Stay awake. Be disciples. Be a witness. Spread the good news. You are invited. Let us be friends. We are friends. I love you.
Rene Lee John is currently a parishioner at Holy Trinity Church, Arouca and formerly at Holy Rosary Church, Port of Spain. He is an advocate of stewardship and an eternal optimist.