When I started thinking about priesthood and after I had had some significant conversations with the vocation director, I was invited to go to a “Come and See” weekend at two of the seminaries used by the diocese. The diocese makes the decision about which seminary you might attend, but the purpose was also to help the potential seminarian decide whether to begin the path that might lead to priesthood.
In both places, the first words I heard were, “Welcome to …, before I give you a tour of the rest of the seminary, let me show you the chapel first.” I remember thinking that this was a good sign, because obviously Jesus was the first thing of importance there.
First words are important. They set the tone for everything that follows. Jesus’ first recorded words in the Gospel of John are, “What are you looking for?” These are important words, challenging words.
What am I looking for? Do I even know? Because it is only when we are looking for the answer to that question that we can come to really know who Jesus is.
We don’t even have to be looking for Jesus by name, but we do have to be looking for what and who really will give meaning to my life. Maybe the question needs to be a little more nuanced.
We need to be at the stage of our life when the most important question for us is not, “What do I want?” We need to be able to take one step more and ask, “O Lord, what do you want for me?” Or if that is too hard a leap maybe, “O Lord, where do you want me to find my happiness?”
Only when we can ask that sort of question will we hear Jesus say, “Come and you will see.”
What are we invited to see if we accept this invitation of Jesus? We will see how Jesus is in relationship with his Father. We will see how Jesus remains in the Father and how the Father remains in him. We are drawn into a relationship with Jesus who is the God/man in love and in union with the Father.
The Gospel for this Sunday says that the disciples saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. The word used to say that the disciples “stayed” with Jesus is the same word that is used to say that Jesus “remained” with the Father and the Father “remained” with him.
When we ask our question of Jesus and he invites us to come and see, he is inviting us into an intimate loving union with him that will allow us to also be in union with the Father and the Spirit.
When Jesus invites us into that union, he gives us a new identity and purpose, just as he gave to Peter. This year, take the risk taken by the two disciples. Put yourself in his presence so that he can ask you, “What are you looking for?” And if you take even one step in his direction, don’t be surprised if he says to you, “Come and see.”