4 January
Jn 1:35-42

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

In John’s gospel Jesus makes his first appearance as someone walking past in silence.  The whole scene is characterised by great silence: there is no voice from heaven identifying Jesus (unlike Mt 3:17 and Lk 3:22).  In fact, as you look you notice that many things are absent from John’s gospel that are to the fore in the others.  There is no reference to the temptations in the desert, no preaching of the kingdom of God, no teaching in synagogues and healing, no call for disciples.  Jesus is a mysterious silent presence; and when he does speak, he does not speak in parables but in an elevated mystical tone. 

In the present scene, when he sees the two following him he asks, "What are you looking for?"  Particularly coming from a silent person, it was a profound question.  They made no answer, probably because they didn’t have an answer.  Instead they asked, “Where are you staying?”  He said, “Come and see.”  He did not say “Listen!” but “See!”  It was the answer of a silent man.  They remained with him that day.  This is in keeping with the repeated “abide in me” or “make your home in me” much later in the gospel. 

It can seem a little strange, this emphasis on silence, in a gospel whose first words are, “In the beginning was the Word.”  But this Word is not like the weightless things we fill the air with; it is a Word in which to make our home.  He spoke of “keeping my word” (8:51; 14:23), and of “my words abiding in you” (15:7).

There is such an emphasis today on communication that we want to pass everything on within seconds of receiving it.  Abiding, making our home in him who is the Word: this is a helpful headline for us.  This alone can transform us, as it transformed Peter and Andrew and all the others.  “If you are to hear the words of Jesus,” wrote Ignatius of Antioch (1st century), “you must also hear his silence.” 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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