This statement is so clear and unequivocal that two of the Baptist’s disciples, without hesitation, leave John and follow Jesus.
“What are you looking for?” is Jesus’ surprising question to the two who follow Him. It would seem like a superfluous question: it is obvious that they are following Him. But Jesus’ question is not trivial: it goes straight to the fundamental problem of human life.
Are you clear on what you are looking for? Are you simply moved by the emotion of the moment or by a passing need? Are you living without consciously engaging your freedom and intelligence? Do you really know what you’re looking for? And why do you do it?
It is as though Jesus provoked the two disciples to a progressive purification of their intentions: you trusted John, you obeyed his instructions, you did not remain prisoners of the emotional ties that bound you to him, but, after leaving the Baptist, now do you really know what coming after Me will mean for you?
The two of them respond to Jesus, asking a question: “Master, where do You live?”
First of all, they recognize Jesus as the “Master”: One who can speak to them wisely, with words from above, One who can direct their lives towards the truth and its fulfilment.
“Where do You live?” is not the request for a residential address. The Greek verb (μmenein) which we can translate as “remain”, “dwell”, “abide”, is a very important verb in the Gospel according to John. It is a dynamic verb. It indicates a movement, the fundamental movement of life; it has to do with the deepest and most intimate identity of a person. If we wanted to express it with an image, we could translate it like this: “Where are you planting your roots?”, “where do you draw from in life so as to be permanently yourself?”. In other words: “Who are you?”.
“Come and see”: is Jesus’ response. An invitation: Stay with Me, share My life and you will learn to know Me, to penetrate the secret of My deepest identity. It is only in the daily and intimate relationship with Me that you can really come to know Me.
“So, they went and saw where He was staying, and they remained with Him that day; it was around four o’clock in the afternoon.”
John’s two disciples accepted Jesus’ invitation, stayed with Him, and came to know Him. It is interesting to know that to describe the “dwelling” of Jesus and the “remaining” of the disciples with Him all day, the original Greek text uses the same verb: remain: — menein!
This means that Jesus allowed the two disciples to “see” His deepest identity, His intimate relationship with the Father, who moves and gives reason and strength to His every action.
Four o’clock, the experience he had was so intense and decisive that the Evangelist also wanted to fix the exact time of that meeting which so definitively and permanently changed his life.
Behold the Lamb of God!
This same joyful and intense expression of faith is repeated at every Mass, when the Priest, presenting the faithful with the Chalice of the Blood of Christ and the consecrated Host, invites them to adore Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and to perform an act of faith, before receiving Holy Communion.
This phrase, Behold the Lamb of God, at that precise moment in the Mass replicates the same dialogue that took place one day along the banks of the Jordan, it is an invitation that is renewed each time between Jesus and every single believer.
Receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, with faith and humility, is our way of going, seeing and dwelling with Jesus. Indeed, even more, it is allowing Jesus to take up residence within us, to enable us to dwell in Him and He in us, in His relationship with the Father.
Nourished by Him, we can live with Him. Inhabited by His presence, we can dwell stably in the mystery of the Trinity. We are made participants in His divine life; we are gradually transformed into being truly like Him.
Holy Communion coincides with our four o’clock in the afternoon: it is a decisive hour in our life, it marks the exact time of the meeting that transforms earthly time into eternity.
* Custody of the Holy Land
By Fr Luke Gregory ofm*