“To seek Jesus, to encounter Jesus, to follow Jesus: this is the way,” proclaimed Pope Francis in his remarks January 14, 2018, before praying the Angelus with the crowd of 25,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father cited today’s gospel (John1:35-42), in which John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and the two disciples follow Jesus, asking where he is staying.
“And so it is for us: He whom we contemplated in the mystery of Christmas, we are now called to follow in daily life,” the Pope said. “Today’s Gospel, therefore, introduces us perfectly in the Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that serves to animate and verify our journey of faith in our usual life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and following, between manifestation and vocation.”
Pope Francis explained that a life of faith and discipleship requires a “personal encounter” with Christ. And a life of faith “consists in the desire to be with the Lord and, therefore, in a continuous search of the place where He dwells.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
As on the feast of the Epiphany and that of Jesus’ Baptism, today’s Gospel page (Cf. John 1:35-42) also proposes the theme of the Lord’s manifestation. This time it’s John the Baptist who points Him out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God” (v. 36), thus inviting them to follow Him. And so it is for us: He whom we contemplated in the mystery of Christmas, we are now called to follow in daily life. Today’s Gospel, therefore, introduces us perfectly in the Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that serves to animate and verify our journey of faith in our usual life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and following, between manifestation and vocation.
The Gospel account indicates the essential characteristics of the journey of faith. There is an itinerary of faith, and this is the itinerary of disciples of all times, also ours, beginning with the question Jesus addresses to the two that, urged by the Baptist, start to follow Him: “What do you seek?” (v. 38). It’s the same question that, on Easter morning, the Risen One asks Mary Magdalene: “Woman, whom do you seek?” (John 20:15). Each one of us, in as much as a human being, is seeking: seeking happiness, seeking love, a good and full life. God the Father has given us all this in His Son Jesus.
Fundamental in this search is the role of a true witness, of a person who first of all has made the journey and has encountered the Lord. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is this witness. Therefore he can direct the disciples to Jesus, who involves them in a new experience, saying: “Come and see” (v. 39). And those two will never be able to forget the beauty of that encounter, to the point that the Evangelist even notes the hour: “it was about four o’clock in the afternoon” (Ibid.). Only a personal encounter with Jesus generates a path of faith and of discipleship. We can have many experiences, do many things, establish relations with many persons, but only the meeting with Jesus, in the hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our life and make our projects and our initiatives fruitful.
It’s not enough to build for oneself an image of God based on what one has heard said; it’s necessary to go to seek the divine Master and to go where He dwells. The two disciples’ request to Jesus: “Where are you staying?” (v. 38), has an intense spiritual meaning: it expresses the desire to know where the Master dwells, to be able to be with Him. The life of faith consists in the desire to be with the Lord and, therefore, in a continuous search of the place where He dwells. This means that we are called to overcome a habitual religiosity taken for granted, reviving the encounter with Jesus in prayer, in meditation of the Word of God and in frequenting the Sacraments, to be with Him and bear fruit thanks to Him, to His help and His grace.
To seek Jesus, to encounter Jesus, to follow Jesus: this is the way — to seek Jesus, to encounter Jesus, to follow Jesus.
May the Virgin Mary sustain us in this resolution to follow Jesus, to go and stay where He dwells, to listen to his Word of life, to adhere to Him who takes away the sin of the world, to rediscover in Him hope and spiritual enthusiasm.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]