OT II [B]: I Sam 3:3b-10, 19; I Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
A stranger once asked a teacher, “What’s your profession?” The teacher replied, “Christian,” The stranger continued, “No, that’s not what I mean. What’s your job?” The teacher asserted, once again, “I’m a Christian!” Puzzled, the stranger clarified, “Perhaps I should ask, what you do for a living?” The teacher replied, “Well, I’ve a full-time job as a Christian. But, to support my sick husband and children, I teach in a school.” That teacher had certainly understood the meaning of discipleship summarized by today’s Responsorial Psalm (40): “Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.”
Today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for the Lamb of God and to lead lives of holiness and purity. We are told that each of us, as a Christian, is personally called to discipleship, which demands an ongoing response of commitment. The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service. The boy Samuel responded to God promptly, as instructed by his master and mentor, Eli, saying, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God.
In the opening verses of today’s Gospel, John points out to his disciples that the One who is passing by is the “Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus who turns and asks them what they are seeking. Somewhat confused, they ask Jesus where he is staying. Jesus does not tell them. Instead, he invites them to “come and see.” For each of us, belief in Jesus develops in stages, which John appears to be describing. First, we respond to testimony given by others. Then, having "seen" where Jesus dwells - within believers, as individuals and as community - we move to commitment based on our own experience of the risen Lord. Finally, our conversion is completed when we become witnesses for Jesus. In Andrew's case, his conversion reveals his belief in Jesus as the Messiah. He then brings his brother Peter to Christ. Like the missionary call of Samuel and the apostles, we too are called. Our call is to rebuild broken lives, reconciling them to God's love and justice through Christ Jesus, our Lamb and Lord.
Being a disciple of Jesus means that we are to grow in faith and become witnesses for him. Bearing witness to Christ is an active rather than a passive enterprise. Knowing Jesus is a matter of experience. One could know the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all 700 pages of it, by heart, and still not know Jesus. Bearing witness to Christ, then, demands that we should have personal and first-hand experience of Jesus. 1. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives – through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers and through the Sacraments, especially by participation in the Eucharistic celebration. 2. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy and forgiveness preached and lived by Jesus. The essence of our witness-bearing is to state what we have seen, heard, experienced and believed, and then to invite others to "come and see." Other people will see Jesus in our lives when we love, forgive and spend time doing good. A dynamic and living experience of Jesus will also enable us to invite and encourage people to come and participate in our Church activities.
Two men, who had been business partners for over twenty years, met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, "Where are you going this morning?" "I'm going to play golf. What about you?" The first man responded rather apologetically, "I'm going to Church." The other man said, "Why don't you give up that Church stuff?" The first man asked, "What do you mean?" His partner said: "Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to Church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn't mean that much to you."
Don't get yourself in that fix. Don't let others think your Faith doesn't matter that much to you.
George Barna, in his book Marketing the Church, writes: "The most effective means of getting people to experience what a Church has to offer is having someone they know who belongs to the Church simply invite them to try it. Call it whatever you wish - word-of-mouth, personal invitation, friendship evangelism - this is indisputably the most effective means of increasing the church rolls." [George Barna, Marketing the Church (NavPress, Colorado Springs, 1988), p. 109.] There are 160 million Americans who are unchurched. If invited to attend Church, 31% said they would be very likely to come - 51% said they would be somewhat likely to come. That means 82% of the people who do not go to Church in America are likely to attend if they are invited - Only 21% of active Church goers ever invite anyone to Church. Only 2% of active Church-goers invite the unchurched.
If we really appreciate our faith, we cannot just keep it to ourselves, we will be forced from within to share it with others. Let this Sunday give us a challenge to examine our faith and urge us to share it with others.