COME AND SEE – Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A; Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (RC)

January 15, 2023

Revised Common Lectionary
Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10 (8a, 9a)
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1:29-34

Today we are faced with the same question that Jesus put to the two disciples of John the Baptist in the Gospel reading: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38)

Depending on our stage of life and our personal situation, we may be looking for intimacy, security, good grades, success, adventure, a job, freedom from something or someone that has us stuck, or perhaps reconciliation with a family member or friend. What are we looking for, and how likely are we to find it?

Augustine of Hippo, an African Christian leader who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries, and one of the great figures in the history of Christian theology, was a famous searcher. Although his mother Monica enrolled him as a catechumen when he was a child, he was not very interested in the Christian faith. He enjoyed the pleasures of life way too much for that, and so focused his search for meaning in various philosophies. The story of Augustine’s conversion in his early thirties, found in his famous Confessions, is both complicated and inspiring.

After struggling for a long time, Augustine finally realized that God was not only the object of his deepest longing but had been there all along. God had always been asking what he was looking for, but Augustine was “looking for other Love in all the wrong places.” In the end, he realized that he had been searching for the God revealed to us in Jesus and living inside him. This insight led him to write this famous prayer: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Augustine’s story points to the truth that the ultimate object of our search is to be at one with God. We may not know it. We may avoid it. We may look for happiness in all kinds of other places. Yet the human spirit is hardwired to find its true fulfillment in God alone. Enjoying the good things that God has done for us and developing strong loving relationships can surely be steps in our journey to God. Yet there is no car, career, house, or human relationship that can fulfill the very deepest longings of our heart. Only God can do that.

So, imagine Jesus turning to you and asking, “What are you looking for?” In the Gospel story, when he poses that question to the two disciples, they don’t answer directly, but instead ask Jesus, perhaps sheepishly, “Where do you stay?” He responds with an invitation to them that is also meant for us: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39).

Jesus is inviting us not simply to make a social visit or to join a club, but to stay with him, to remain in him, to stake our lives on him. When the two disciples accepted the invitation to “come and see,” they clearly had no idea what they would see in the months ahead and how radically their own lives would change.

And so today, we are left first with a question: “What are you looking for?” The invitation is then extended to “come and see.” But watch out—life will never be the same.

A Hymn for Today: “Just as I Am, without One Plea”

English hymn writer Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) was struck with a severely disabling illness at the age of 32, an experience that dramatically changed her life and outlook. She turned from writing humor to creating devotional works, including hymns, rooted in her own spiritual journey.

In a culture where many are made to feel that they are “not enough,” this hymn invites the singer to come to Jesus just as they are. The stanzas are an appropriate response to the invitation of Jesus to “come and see,” to find in him the object of our deepest longings. The refrain echoes the proclamation of John the Baptist in the first part of today’s Gospel, in which he proclaims Jesus to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Listen here. Read more here.

Just as I am, without one plea
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou biddest me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come; I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come; I come!

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come; I come!

Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come; I come!

Text: Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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