SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR B
January 15 , 2006
Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist. Through the Baptist, they encounter Jesus, the young rabbi from Galilee. “John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’" (Jn 1:36). “The Lamb of God” (Jn 1:36) the image was not unfamiliar to Andrew and John. They knew the prophecy of Isaiah, “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, he opened not his mouth” (Is 53:7). Year after year, they had partaken of the lamb sacrificed at Passover (Ex 12:3-9). By calling Jesus “the Lamb of God,” the Baptist points to the innocence of Jesus, to his readiness for victimhood and sacrifice, and to the meekness that will characterize him, even in the cruel torments of his passion and death.
Andrew and John, hearing the Baptist designate Jesus as the Lamb of God, follow Jesus. They leave the Forerunner for the Lamb, the friend of the Bridegroom (Jn 3:29) for the Bridegroom himself. The Baptist rejoices to see them move on. He says, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3: 28-30).
Already the mystery of the Cross looms large on the horizon. In designating Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Baptist announces his passion and his sacrifice. Both Andrew and John will follow the Lamb “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). John will stand beneath the Cross with the Mother of Jesus, and be witness to the pierced side, to the water and to the blood (Jn 19:25, 34). According to tradition, Andrew, like the Lamb, his Master, will suffer death on a cross, exclaiming “O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul. Confident and rejoicing, I come to thee; so do thou also exultingly receive me, a disciple of him who hung upon thee” (Magnificat Antiphon, 30 November).
The Baptist introduces Andrew and John into the company of the Lamb and the Lamb introduces them into the intimacy of the Father. We are in the presence of a double mystery, a two-fold intimacy: one nuptial and one filial. So often as we approach the Holy Table for a foretaste of the wedding supper of the Lamb, the Spirit of the Son is sent into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father” (Gal 4:6)!
Jesus turned around, the gospel says, saw them following him, and said: “What do you seek” (Jn 1:38)? Like so many of us, the disciples seem not to know their deepest desire. Like many of us, they were alienated from themselves, out of touch with the inner groaning and yearning for something more or, at least, unable to articulate it. And so they answered Jesus by another question. “Rabbi, where do you dwell” (Jn 1:38)?
They had no idea what they were asking. Their question was prompted by the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is as much to prompt us to question, as to provide us with answers. Should we not reply to Jesus’ question as did Andrew and John, by asking the same question. “Where do you live, Jesus? Where do you make your home?” This is a question which probes the depths of the mystery of God himself. “Where do you dwell, you who are God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God?” We are obliged to refer to the inexhaustible prologue of Saint John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was facing God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). Jesus, the Eternal Word of the Father, dwells in the bosom of the Father. There he lives, turned towards the Father, held fast in the embrace of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus responds with an astonishing invitation. “Come and see”(Jn 1:39). He echoes the psalmist’s invitation, “Taste and see the sweetness of the Lord” (Ps 33:8). “Come and see. Ascend with me to the Father. Take your place with me in his presence. There you will discover your heart’s desire. There you will possess that for which you were created.” “He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).
Joined to the Bridegroom, we form, all of us together, his one Body, the Bride whom he loves and for whose sake he gave himself up as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2). This is why the Apostle says in the second reading, “The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor 6:13).
The essence of today’s gospel is distilled in the simple dialogue: “‘What do you seek?’ ‘Where do you dwell?’ ‘Come and see’” (Jn 1:38-39). The very essence of prayer, the experience of all the saints and mystics of the Church, is found in the same simple dialogue: “‘What do you seek?’ ‘Where do you dwell?’ ‘Come and see.’”
“Behold the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:35)! Christ turns to us, sees us following him, and asks us to tell him the desire of our hearts. “What do you seek” (Jn 1:38)? Beneath the rubble of so many passing and trashy desires, there is the deepest desire of all, the one inscribed in our hearts by the finger of God in letters of fire: the desire to see God face to face, and to make our dwelling in him.
“Where do you dwell” (Jn 1:38)? The Son dwells in the Father and he would have us dwell there with him. “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17: 24).
To each one of us Christ says, “Come and see!” Holy Communion is our ascent with Christ to the Father. The Eucharist lifts us into the Father’s bosom to abide there as sons in the Son. Partake of the Flesh of the immolated Lamb. Let your hearts be raised to where the Son dwells with the Father in the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages.