Sunday 19th January
2nd Sunday in Ordinary time
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
(Sunday reading - Year A)
(Weekday readings - Year 2)
1st Reading Isaiah 49:1-7
2nd Reading Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel Jonn 1:29-42
Last week we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Today’s gospel starts with the account of that baptism in St John’s Gospel, but the story quickly moves on.
Indeed, it is the very next day, we are told, that John is with two of his disciples including Andrew. Jesus passes by and John points him out to them: “Behold the Lamb of God”. Immediately, they leave John and follow Jesus to where he is staying.
So, although they were his own disciples first, John the Baptist willingly points them to Jesus and encourages them to move on to follow Him. There is no jealousy. We know that John has already been speaking (a couple of verses before our reading this morning began) of “the one who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie”.
No wonder that Jesus speaks of John as the greatest of the prophets. Here is someone who puts the greater good before his own pride: who puts following Jesus before anything else. Would we be so content to let someone leave us to follow the path to which God was calling them? How would we feel if we had hopes or plans for someone else if, in response to God’s call, they went off on a different course?
But, back to our Gospel: Presumably the next day, Andrew goes off to find his brother Simon. He tells him “We have found the Messiah” and Simon returns with Andrew to find Jesus who greets him and gives him the new name of Peter, that is “the Rock”.
Look at what is happening here: John the Baptist has encouraged Andrew to follow Jesus and he does so. The following day Andrew seeks out his brother Simon and encourages him, in turn, to follow Jesus. Simon willingly comes to Jesus and, in doing so, becomes Peter, the apostle who will be one of the great leaders of the early Church.
It’s a bit like a relay race: John the Baptist hands the baton to Andrew who, in turn, hands it on to Simon Peter. It is a good model of how the gospel spreads as it is passed on from person to person. However, if anyone drops the baton, then the whole team is out of the race. You can do no more as you can only pass the baton on to one person and, if they drop it, that’s your lot!
So maybe a better model would be passing on a cold or the flu. I’m not instinctively happy with this model as I am reluctant to compare the gospel to an infectious disease but it does make the point: That, in the same way as one infectious person can make many others ill, it is possible for one person, certainly someone like Simon Peter, to point many people to Jesus and, in the process, make many new Christians. May we be like that.