Come and Experience!
Second Sunday in the Ordinary Time
(Feast of Sto. Niño in the Philippines)
January 14, 2018
They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” (Jn 1:38-39)
In the Gospel of John, we will not discover the word “apostle” or one who is sent to preach the Gospel. John the Evangelist consistently calls those who faithfully gather around Jesus as the disciples. Why so? Perhaps, John the Evangelist wants to show us that the most important and fundamental aspect of being a follower of Jesus is truly to be a disciple.
What is a disciple in the time of Jesus? We usually understand a student as one who studies at a particular school with its buildings, facilities and system of learning. Like Br. Bayu is a student of the University of Santo Tomas, and every Monday to Friday, he has to attend classes at the Manila campus. I am expected to learn particular knowledge, like the theology of St. Paul or master certain skills like preaching. At the end of the semester, I need to pass the exams in order to prove that I have learned those set of knowledge or skills. If I fail, I have to take a remedial or retake the subject all over again. Surely, this is a simplistic way of imagining learning in our time, but if we want to be a disciple in the time of Jesus, we have to enter a different world.
When Andrew and Peter become the disciples of Jesus, it does not mean that they will attend lectures of Jesus. They literally follow Jesus wherever Jesus goes. That is why the first question Andrew asks is not how much the tuition fee is or what lesson Jesus will impart, but rather “Rabbi, where are you staying?” because it is clear in the mind of Andrew that if he wants to become a disciple, he has to follow Jesus literally for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He is going to walk where Jesus goes, eat what Jesus eats, to sleep where Jesus lays His head, to experience what Jesus experiences, the joy, sadness, the suffering, and resurrection! Learning then is not simply about gaining knowledge or skills, but it is about sharing life, giving and receiving life.
It is interesting also to note that Jesus’ response to Andrew is oft-quoted “come and see”, yet in some ancient Greek manuscripts the words used are “erkesthe kai opheste ”. If they are translated literally, it sounds like “come and experience!” To become a disciple is to experience the life of Jesus, to experience Jesus Himself. Surely, it is a total experience of Jesus. Thus, the end of learning is not the grades, but a new life in the likeness of Jesus, the Master. It is the imitation of Christ in the real sense.
However, to become this kind of disciple, the price is also extremely high. To follow and experience Jesus’ life, we need to give up our lives. A life for life. We cannot be the disciples of Jesus only 8 AM to 3 PM, but the rest of the day, we are free. We cannot say that we are disciples of Jesus when we are at the Church only, but not in the workplaces and homes. We become like Jesus both in good times and bad times. The questions now are: Are we willing to sacrifice our old lives? Are we ready to follow Jesus day and night? Are we making our full effort to become like Christ?
Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno , OP