I’d like to put today’s gospel into context. Last week we celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John. Shortly after this event John tells in his gospel that the disciples of John the Baptist came to him complaining, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going over to him.” Obviously they were very territorial and resented this intrusion of Jesus into John’s ministry. But the Baptist reminded them he never claimed to be the Messiah, but that one would come after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist makes his famous saying about his relationship with Jesus when he tells his disciples “I must decrease, he must increase.”
In today’s gospel we hear John the Baptist encouraging his loyal friends to move on, to follow Jesus. They do, at a distance. Jesus knows they are following Him and simply asks “what are you looking for?” In other words, “what is the hunger in your heart?”
They wanted to know where He was staying and, I think the most important words in today’s gospel are found in Jesus’ reply: “come and see.” It’s an open invitation to spend some time with Him, to listen to what He has to say and in that way get to know Him better. By responding to that simple invitation, “come and see” Andrew’s life was turned around. By taking the time to “come and see” Andrew came to a deeper knowledge of Jesus as a person and was touched by the teaching of his new friend. He couldn’t keep this to himself and went searching for his brother Simon convinced “we have found the Messiah” and Simon took the time to “come and see” and his life was changed forever.
So often in life Jesus offers each of us the invitation to “come and see” and spend a bit of time in peace and quiet with Him so that He can help us see how loved we are and appreciate the singular sacredness of each of us. Remember that song from the musical “The King and I”, Getting to Know You? Getting to know you getting to know more about you, day by day. It’s a variation of the invitation of Jesus, “come and see”. Jesus offers us the invitation ‘come and see’ with the simple hint that we spend a few minutes a day reading the scripture or attending a bible class with others who want to know Jesus in a new way. Come and see, take the time to get to know me better, take the time to let me show you how much you mean to me, take the time to let me show you the plans I have for you. We lose out on so much when we find ourselves too busy, too preoccupied, too involved in so many things that we don’t have time to accept His gracious invitation “come and see.”
When we stop to think of it our lives can be so enrich, enhanced, deepened, if we took the time to come and see. How often do we shut people out of our lives, how often to do shut our minds to new ideas and insights because we don’t care to “come and see”?
Because of our preconceived ideas or prejudices we close our minds and lives to other people, other cultures and other visions. Remember the saying, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up”? We rob ourselves of getting to know the goodness, the richness of other people’s lives because we don’t have the open mind and heart that would let us “come and see”.
There is a story told of a young couple moving into a new neighbourhood. One morning while they were having breakfast the young woman sees her neighbour hanging out the wash. That laundry is not very clean she says to her husband. She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap. Her husband looked out the window but said nothing. Every time the neighbour hung out her laundry to dry the woman said the same thing. After a couple of weeks she was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “look, she’s learned to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her.” The husband said, “I got up early this morning and washed the kitchen windows.” The story is a variation of the invitation, “come and see”, in other words, “take the time to get to know me.”
Isn’t true that when we observe others and wonder who they are and what they do, so much depends on how we see them, so much depends on how clean our own window is? We can all ask ourselves “Do I allow the grime of stereotyping or prejudice dim my ability to see the goodness, the beauty, the generosity, the integrity of men and women of other faiths, cultures and life styles?” If we do then we are the losers.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other that we set aside rash judgments and be graced with the openness to take the time to “come and see” and allow ourselves to be enriched by the goodness and generosity that can be found in all of us.