(1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42)
The ancient and sometimes-noble occupation of matchmaker has taken on modern twist with the advent of the computer age. Instead of going to see the neighborhood Yenta, dozens of on-line services are now available to match you with your soul mate from the comfort of your living room or home office. They advertise that their process is designed to guarantee that within six months you will meet someone who is meant only for you and with whom you can build a long and life-giving relationship. You may even know a couple or two who met this way, who fell in love, and are now happily married. More probably, though, you know many more couples who met and entered into a relationship thanks to the efforts of family and friends...someone who knew them both well and who said, “I know the perfect person for you; I can’t wait for the two of you to get together!” Sometimes such efforts are less than successful, but when someone knows both parties...and knows them well...the introductions they arrange can lead to a lifetime of friendship and love.
In today’s gospel, people are introducing their friends and family to Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, whose whole life has been dedicated to preparing a people for the Lord, recognizes him immediately when he comes upon the scene. Although he has developed a following of his own, he does not hesitate to point out Jesus to two of his disciples: “Behold the Lamb of God! There is the One you must follow.” And they leave John to become disciples of Jesus Christ. One of these disciples is Andrew and, having encountered Jesus, he can’t wait to tell his brother Peter. “We have found the Messiah!” He brings Peter to Jesus; Jesus already seems to know who he is and even changes his name.
When you think about it, all of us came to know Jesus Christ through the agency of another person. Whether we are cradle Catholics or came to faith as an adult, someone introduced us to Jesus Christ. It may have been a parent or grandparent who told us about God and taught us our first prayers...it may have been a loving teacher or a priest, brother, or sister...it might have been a friend or coworker who invited us to come to Midnight Mass or attend a parish potluck supper. That invitation meant something to us because it came from someone who knew us and who we believe cared about us—cared about us enough that they wanted to share with us a relationship that was so important to them: a relationship with Jesus Christ. In recent years, the Church locally and throughout the world, has tried to re-awaken in us a spirit of evangelization... the responsibility we all have to spread the Gospel. Most of shrink back from that word because we associate it with holy rollers, Mormons on bicycles, or people who stand on corners and hand out Bible tracts. “We’re Catholic,” we think, “We don’t do that!” But the work of evangelization need not be so dramatic or threatening. Basically, it is doing what we hear about in the Gospel today—inviting others to “come and see”—sharing with those we know and care about a relationship that has been and is life-giving and important to us.
Who could you introduce to Jesus today...this week?
– Fr. Anthony Criscitelli, T.O.R.
Sunday, January 15, 2012