focus of the liturgy shifts from Christmastime
to Ordinary Time, the period that comes before
Lent and again after Pentecost. Vestments worn
for Mass are green, liturgical colour of hope.
The gospel of Mark is short and is filled out
on some Sundays by passages from the other gospels,
today from St John.
Like Mark, John gives no time to the youth
of Jesus. It is enough for him, as he has already
told us, that Jesus is ‘the Word of God made
flesh’. Just before today’s passage from the
gospel John the Baptist has called Jesus “the
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.
Since it was believed that only God could forgive
sin, this is an extraordinary statement. The
Baptist followed this by saying that Jesus existed
before him, that he had seen the Spirit descend
on him, and that “this is the Son (Chosen One)
of God”. The new disciples of Jesus seem to
have understood little of this, since they greet
Jesus as another rabbi.
John and his disciples are standing; Jesus
is in motion, and at some distance. When John
bears witness to Jesus, the two disciples move
to follow Jesus, who stops to speak to them.
The question asked by the disciples arises from
Jewish practice that a rabbi should have a place
of his own where he could gather his disciples.
Jesus answers their question and invites them
to follow and they do as they are told. Jesus
takes the initiative. They remain with him from
about 4 pm until the end of the day. Only one
of the disciples is named, Andrew. The other
may be the one described later as the Beloved
Disciple, who may or may not be the apostle
John. When Andrew says ‘we have found the Messiah’,
he is not wholly accurate either in how he had
found him or in his acknowledgement of all that
the Baptist had said about Jesus. They are on
the way to becoming true disciples. The people
for whom the gospel of John is written would
have known about Peter’s new name and vocation
as rock and foundation stone.
Where might the expression ‘Lamb
of God’ have come from? Perhaps
1. A reference to the paschal lamb whose blood
in sacrifice recalled the liberation of the
Chosen People from slavery in Egypt. [Exodus
2. The suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah,
‘led like a sheep to the slaughter and mute
as a lamb before his shearers’. [Isaiah 53,
3. Isaac, son of Abraham, had asked his father
where was the lamb for the sacrifice, to which
his father had replied: “It is God who will
provide the lamb” [Genesis 22, 8]
Jesus obeyed the Father in circumstances created
for him by the free choices of others.
• The disciples standing with the Baptist
decided to follow Jesus. This reminds me that
the first step in being a Christian is to
follow where Christ goes. After all, the word
‘Christian’ begins with ‘Christ’. Might I
keep in closer touch?
• Andrew is the first disciple to be named
and he brought his brother Peter to Jesus.
It was Andrew who knew what bread the group
had before the multiplication. It was Andrew
and Philip who brought the Greeks to Jesus.
Yet Peter, James and John were those present
at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of
Gethsemane. Andrew was content to go along,
usually in the background. Do I find Andrew’s
example a help?
• In the other gospels Jesus calls and the
apostles leave all at once and follow. St
John shows us today that there was a time
of preparation, of ‘getting to know’, a more
gradual process, and more like what we would
expect before making a big decision. God attracts
but does not force. Does this allow me to
postpone, to dally, and not resolving?
• “Where do you live?” “Come and see.” Where
should I go? Who or what might I hope to see
• “Behold the Lamb of God.
Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
His message is not about sin but about freedom
and forgiveness. Do I take this to heart?