2nd Sunday 18th January 2009
Where Do You Live?
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.
TThink of a time when you felt very happy – even if it was only for a while. It probably had little to do with money or possessions. More likely it had to do with relationships: the experience of being loved by someone special, the support of a group of faithful friends, an awareness of God’s love and providence in your life.
Listen to this brief conversation. Jesus saw two people walking after him; he turned and asked them, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi, where do you live?’ These are ordinary words we could exchange with any stranger: ‘Can I be of any help to you?’ ‘Do you live around here yourself?’ But in Bible stories we always look for something deeper.
The two recognized immediately that there was something extraordinary and fascinating about this stranger. When he asked them what they wanted, they knew he was asking about their deepest needs and desires. They did not give him a list of things they wanted. They simply said, ‘Where do you live?’ From the moment they saw him passing by they sensed that if they could be where Jesus lived, they would have what they wanted. The story ends by saying that the time was the tenth hour. In the Bible the number ten was the perfect number: the time the disciples spent with Jesus was the perfect time.
That precious time when we are at peace with ourselves, with others and with God, when we experience ourselves as deeply loved, this is the tenth hour, the perfect time: we are where Jesus lives.
A close sharing between friends
I called to see an old friend who is a widower, now retired and living on his own. He sat in a large and comfortable chair near the fire. Beside him were his rosary beads and a collection of printed prayers which he says every day. After a life-time of long working days he can now attend Mass every morning. I thought of St. Teresa of Avila’s description of prayer: ‘prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.’ This is the tenth hour for my friend and he is where Jesus lives.
The Gospel story reminds us of the next world too. Our hope and prayer is that we will see Jesus there; that he will turn to us and say, ‘What do you want?’ We will answer, ‘Where do you live?’ and he will say, ‘Come and see.’ We will go and see where he lives and we will stay with him – forever.
Prayer Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.
Lead me, O Lord in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous,
O Lord; you cover them with favour as with a shield.