The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. The Advent and Christmas season typically have that effect, right? The buildup, the preparation, the anticipation, followed by Christmas Day, the New Year, Epiphany, and finally the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord can make one feel rushed and hurried. The season, with all its goodness and blessings, also brings a certain degree of upheaval and disruption. Eventually, and thankfully, Christmas decorations come down, mangers get packed away, and our homes and, hopefully, our lives once again take on a sense of normalcy. Yet… this has not necessarily been the case, so far.
The pandemic is still rampaging through our homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities, and nation. The political anger, upheaval, and strife dominating our thoughts and our conversations have divided our households, our workspaces, our church, and our nation. The Angel’s chorus “Joy to the World”, which we sang just 3 weeks ago, is now but a bitter reminder of our fragile and fickle human nature as we have denigrated into accusation, rebuttal, and condemnation.
This level of anxiety and concern wears on our human psyche. We tire of the rhetoric. We succumb to the stress and withdraw. The reality of illness and death lurking, infiltrating, and altering daily routines restricts our movements and limits our relationships. This period of time between the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Lent has traditionally been an opportunity to pause, recoup, and breathe. So, today, let us not abandon this opportunity and instead endeavor to strengthen our hope, solidify our resolve, and commit ourselves, by the example of St. Andrew the Apostle, to the pursuit of truth and love.
In today’s Gospel we are presented with an account of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry and so… let us insert ourselves into this story and examine our own response to the call of our Lord.
John the Baptist opens the story as he directs our attention and calls out, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
We too, along with Andrew and the other disciple, leave the comfort and routine of our spiritual mentor and follow Jesus unsure of the destination or purpose. Jesus, turning, fixing his gaze upon us, asks “What are you looking for?”
Here we stop, take a moment, and contemplate his question.
Jesus’ question to the two disciples was a relevant question, especially in that time and place. First Century disciples looking for rabbi to follow, did so for several reasons. It is possible they were legalists, looking to debate subtle and nuanced differences of the law, such as the Pharisees or Scribes. Or… they were ambitious Sadducees seeking influence and position. Or… they were Zealots, hoping for a military leader or political demagogue capable of ridding the Romans from the Promised Land.
However, Jesus’ question, “what are you looking for?” is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. What are you looking for?
Are you looking for an affirmation of righteousness? Like a Pharisee, are you seeking a stamp of approval that what you say and what you do is holy and good?
Are looking for relevance or influence? Like a Sadducee, are you desiring validation of your opinion and an acknowledgement that your voice has been heard?
Are you looking for victory over those whom you perceive as enemies? Like a Zealot, are you needing to prove that you are stronger, smarter, and better than those whom you oppose?
We are all challenged with the same question. We all must answer, “What are you looking for?” so… what is your answer?
Our guide, St. Andrew the Apostle, responded to Jesus’ call honestly and sincerely. His reply, “Where are you staying?” is absent of selfish ambition. Andrew’s intent is not one of manipulation or exploitation. He is not seeking Jesus for his own benefit. He did lot leave the routine and familiarity of what he had known to further his own career, or garner fame or prestige, or obtain influence or power. Andrew, and the other disciple, were seeking Jesus. Desiring to stay with him, to learn from him, to know him.
In a short moment from now, those of us present at his altar will hear the very testimony of John. The priest, holding up the body and blood of our Savior, will proclaim loudly and boldly the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world!”
Will our response this day be free from personal ambition and selfish pride? Will our response this day, be free from false ideals or misguided pursuits of self-righteousness? Will our response this day be free from doubts, divisiveness, and delusion?
I say, let our answer be our own personal fiat. May we, in full confidence and in perfect humility, reply, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed!”
We shall then continue in the example of St. Andrew. We will not let our conversion end with our declaration of faith. Just as Andrew sought out his brother Simon and proclaimed, “We have found the Messiah”, so too must we share the Good News of the Gospel with those whom we encounter.
Now… is the time that we must leave the distractions and the diversions behind.
Now… is the time that we must cast aside false loyalties, misguided ambitions, and diluted promises and steadfastly hold to the truth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the day to be encouraged. Today is the day to find hope. Today is the day we sing, with the Chorus of Angels, “Joy to the World.