04 January 2013

Come and See!

 During the weeks after Christmas, the Church reads Johannine literature. Essentially this consists in John's reprise of the story of creation but now from the vantage point of preparing us for the recreation of everything in Christ. Thus, we hear the prologue to John's Gospel (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. . .the Word was made flesh . . . all that came to be came to be through him. . .) and then a series of readings which, for John correspond to seven days. On the sixth day John speaks of John the Baptist and the fact that he points beyond himself to the One who is greater and will baptize with the Spirit. When Jesus comes on the scene John affirms him as the Lamb of God --- with the richness and variety of meanings that accompany that term. John's disciples then turn from John Bp to Jesus and seek to come to know him. The new Era ("eternal life") begins in this way.

They ask him where he lives --- and the word for lives is the same word used in other Johannine literature meaning remain, reside, persevere, endure, and so forth. In the readings from Luke the accent was on hospitality and especially on offering God hospitality. Today's reading shifts this to Jesus' offering hospitality to those who are curious about him: "Come and see!" Come and see where I live; come and see where I truly rest,; come and see in whom I abide; come and see who I really am. Once the potential disciples have done this and spent some hours with Jesus they come back to find others and proclaim, "We have found the Messiah!" Their confession of faith is not the exhaustive one John will report they make later on, but it is a start and clearly they see that Jesus' offers something that goes beyond anything John the Baptist offered them.

Each of us has been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection. We share the new life, and are citizens of the New Era he inaugurated. But how many of us can say we have responded to Jesus' invitation to "Come and See" with any real focus or perseverance? Jesus has offered us each a unique form of hospitality. We know it when we come to Mass, hear the Word, sit in silence with one another, eat and drink the Eucharistic Bread and Wine, and sing of our joys and sorrows in the accompanying hymns and prayers. But for how many of us is home a place where we allow Jesus to say to us, "Come and see" or offer Him hospitality? What I have in mind here is allowing our homes to be a place where significant prayer and Scripture reading has a place or where we occasionally read the latest book on Jesus or something related to Him.

I haven't recommended too many books here, and none recently --- though I read a lot of them. However, I am going to recommend a couple here --- books I think will help give readers a chance to "Come and see!" The first is Jose Pagola's, Jesus, An Historical Approximation; the second is Gerhard Lohfink's, Jesus of Nazareth, What He Wanted, Who He Was; and the third is Pagola's, The Way Opened Up by Jesus, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.  Pagola is a new author for me and he was enthusiastically recommended by a visiting priest recently. He also has a book on the Sunday readings for this year which is good for those who want to use these lections as the heart of their lectio each week.  I am especially enjoying his book on Jesus. Whether we are accepting Jesus' offer of hospitality or offering him our own, we need to spend SOME time in this kind of reading.  To really "Come and See" means allowing our minds and hearts to be opened to a new vision of things, to a vision of Jesus our own limited experience may not provide. Pagola's and Lohfink's books will help do this.