Losing and finding things are occurrences that happen to all of us. It is a reality that as we grow older, we seem to “lose” things more regularly, not because we are careless but we forget where we originally put them and I am no exception. Recently I found myself looking for a document that I urgently needed to produce and I know I kept it in a safe place. It was so safe, away from prying eyes and hands, that I too forgot where I had put it. After looking for it over days, and desperate pleas to St Anthony of Padua, the patron saint for the recovery of lost items, and St Jude Thaddeus, the patron of desperate cases, I finally discovered it and what a great relief and a sense of joy it was. I guess the more “valuable” the item, the greater the sense of relief and joy after finding it when we think it was lost.
The gospel on this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is focussed on the call of the first disciples by Jesus as described in the Gospel of St John. There are many aspects of “the call” that we could reflect on but on this occasion I would like to focus on the words of the disciple Andrew to his brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah!” – a rendering of the Hebrew word for “Anointed One”.
For Andrew to have used the word “found” would indicate that he (and others surely) had been looking for the Messiah. In fact, the whole of the Old Testament had been pointing towards a coming of the one who was going to save Israel – the promised Messiah. It was really an act of faith on the part of Andrew to have referred to Jesus as the Messiah. Whatever Jesus told him in the brief encounter convinced him that Jesus was the long awaited one and Andrew was excited to share it with his brother, Simon Peter.
The call of the disciple is more than just a call to follow Jesus because there is a “statement of faith”. The disciples that we hear off in today’s Gospel believed that they had found the person who would fulfil their hopes and aspirations. Even though some may have come with pre-conceived notions of what Jesus will accomplish, in the end, it is Jesus who breaks those impressions and builds from ground up a new notion of the kingdom of God with virtues that are founded on love.
We live in a world where the pursuits of status, wealth, power, fame and even perfection are considered “success”. Even though we know that these things are not eternal, enormous time and energy are channelled into these things. At the end of this all, as Jesus would say, “ For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?” (Mark 8:36). The first disciples left everything in order to pursue the Messiah.
As we look at the call of the first disciples in the Gospel today, ask yourself the question that Jesus put to the disciples of John who came after Him, ‘What do you want?’ or What are you looking for in your spiritual journey this year, especially when many of our external expressions of faith have been disrupted? Do we still see the Messiah clearly, do we still feel Him closely? Let us not wait for the “idols” of this world, such as money, power, or popularity to disappoint us before we seek the Messiah.
By our baptism, God has found us but have we found Him in a way that our lives are now permeated by values of the kingdom and virtues founded on love? Our faith is certainly not founded on rituals but it is primarily on the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. It is in this encounter and experience that we will discover our greatest happiness, deepest peace and ultimate purpose in life. When we do find this happiness, peace and purpose in Jesus, our hearts will swell with joy and be witnesses to this Jesus, our Messiah. Our following of Jesus must be our statement of faith.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (17 Jan 2021)