17 January 2021 – St. John 1;35-51
‘Come and see!’ It’s such a gentle invitation, offered in such a way that the person who hears it is free to accept or reject it. ‘Come and see!’ There’s no pressure on you to respond one way or another. ‘Come and see!’ It’s the gentle and gracious invitation of Jesus which lies at the heart and the start of St. John’s Gospel. It was extended to our patron saint, Andrew and his friend.
When they heard John the Baptist talking about Jesus, they were interested. ‘What are you looking for?’ asked Jesus. And they replied, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’ And it’s then that Jesus issues this intriguing invitation, ‘Come and see!’ And they did. They accept the invitation and they see where he is staying and they remain with him for the day. It was the beginning of a long and deep friendship and an unusual and life-changing journey.
Throughout St. John’s Gospel, the importance of staying or abiding is confirmed by Jesus. ‘As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.’ He says in his great prayer for unity. Images abound. There’s one about the house. ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ he says. ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ There’s another about the vine. ‘Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.’
By staying with him, by abiding in him, they are united into an imaginative new world where water is turned into wine, crowds fed with five barley loaves and two fishes and the One who is Lord washes their feet as if he were a servant. There is a mystery surrounding the place where Jesus was staying. Was it a house or a villa, a mansion or a castle, or was it a simple butt and ben?
The mystery is important because it’s not the place that is significant but the person staying there. It’s not the abiding in the house that is crucial but the abiding in the person who lives there. And so it doesn’t matter where Jesus is staying. It could have been here. In fact, it is here. He is with us now in what we call our home for today it has become for us a veritable House of God!