From The Gospel of John, directed by Philip Saville
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel John 1:35-42 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised CatholicEdition)
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he 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 see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed. He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter).
St Andrew the Apostle, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
God calls each of us to our particular vocation in life in a unique way. Pope Francis has told us, for example, that it was on the occasion of going to confession when he was 17 that he saw clearly that God was calling him to be a priest. A couple at whose wedding I officiated some years ago were members of the same Catholic organisation in the university they attended. They became an ‘item’, as they say in the Philippines, when they were the only members of the group to turn up at the appointed time for an outing. While waiting for the others to arrive they discovered that they were more than just casual friends. Now they are happily married with four children.
I’m always amused by the Second Reading from the Office of Readings for the feast of St Anthony the Abbot, 17 January. St Athanasius tells us: He went into the church. It happened that the gospel was then being read, and he heard what the Lord had said to the rich man ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’
The young man Anthony, whose parents had died about six months previously, took these words to heart and went to live in the desert. He became, without planning it, the ‘Father of Monasticism’ in the Church. And perhaps if he had not been late for Mass that day the Gospel might not have struck him as it did. He was to be ‘later’ than most in another sense in that he was 105 when he died, a remarkable age to live to now but even more remarkable in the fourth century! Unlike the married couple above whose punctuality led them to discover God’s call for them, it was through being late for Mass that Anthony discovered what God had in mind for him.
Raphaël Simi, Jean Vanier and Philippe Seux, 2014
In 1964 Jean Vanier invited two men with learning disabilities, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, who had been living in institutions, to live with him in a small cottage that he bought and renovated in France. Having done so he realized that he had made a commitment to these two men and that his commitment involved remaining single. He had no intention of founding a movement but, in God’s plan, that’s what came about: L’Arche. Raphaël and Philippe are now considered, with Jean, co-founders of L’Arche.
Fr Hans Urs von Balthasar, a great Swiss theologian much admired by St John Paul II, in reflecting on today’s Gospel from the First Chapter of St John, links it to an incident in the last chapter, John 21: 15 ff [starting at 0:55 in the video below].
Fr von Balthasar writes: In the last chapter of the book Peter will be the foundation stone to such a degree that he will also have to undergird ecclesial love: ‘Simon, do you love me more than these?’
John 21:15-17 was the gospel read at the Pope’s Mass in Manila Cathedral on 16 January 2015 with priests, religious, consecrated persons and seminarians. This passage shows what is at the heart of every call from God, whether to marriage, to the priesthood, to the consecrated life, to the single life. The call is above all to an intimate relationship with Jesus. Pope Francis highlighted this in his homily: For us priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer. The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal! For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity. For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others.
Pope Francis also said, The poor are at the center of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel; if we take away the poor from the Gospel we can’t understand the whole message of Jesus Christ.
Living the Gospel within the context of a deep personal relationship with Jesus the Risen Lord involves seeing reality through the eyes of those with little in life. Pope Francis showed this in a beautiful way by an unplanned – at least it wasn’t on the official schedule – to a group of very poor children at TNK in Manila, near the Cathedral. (‘Tulay ng Kabataan’ means ‘A Bridge to Children’).