I had two aunts that I believe were saints, my Aunt Beverly and my Aunt Bert. Both of them had a deep love for the Lord and a devotion to Jesus Christ and the Church. Long before I ever considered entering the seminary, each of these aunts saw something in me that prompted them to suggest to me that I should consider a vocation to the priesthood. I don’t know what they saw in me that caused them to make that suggestion for my life. Perhaps what they saw was a desiring heart. Sometimes our heart is searching for something long before our conscious mind is ready to consider what it might be. Sometimes it just takes someone to point the way for us.
Andrew and John, the beloved disciple, had become disciples of John the Baptist. John the Baptist knows that he is not the One who they are looking for. John will say clearly, “he must increase and I must decrease.” When Jesus walks by them John the Baptist says to his two disciples caught up in this search for their heart’s desires, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” John the Baptist is pointing the way for them to the answer to their heart’s deepest longing. He is in effect saying to them, “there is the One who you are looking for.” To these two Israelites, John the Baptist is saying to them, “There is the beloved Son whom the Father is willing to sacrifice in love, the Isaac of Abraham.” Truly, God will provide the sacrifice. God will send the pure Lamb, the acceptable sacrifice of praise and worship. Andrew and John, the beloved, understand immediately what John the Baptist is saying to them and they begin immediately to follow Jesus.
Jesus turns around and sees these two disciples following him and he asks them: “What are you looking for?” This is the question for every vocation. What do you want out of life? What is your heart hungry for? What truth are you thirsting for? Saint Augustine writes in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” As seekers in life we have a restlessness within us that longs to be filled. There is an infinite desire for a fullness of life that nothing finite and temporal can fulfill. What can we give our lives to that will be worthy of our dignity and fulfill our destiny? Certainly for these two fishermen they must have thought that there must be something greater in life than setting out to sea, catching fish, mending nets and taking their catch to market day in and day out. Does Jesus have what these two fishermen turned disciples are looking for?
The two disciples express their desire to Jesus in an enigmatic way when they say to him: “Where are you staying?” Their question is not just a curious query about lodging and accommodations. They are looking for something more, something that has “staying” power, something that lasts, something in which a restless heart might find rest. In a world that is constantly changing, that is constantly promising and too often disappointing, that is full of illusions, is there a “staying” place? Is there a place where we can place our faith, where love is real and hope does not disappoint? For John in his gospel, it is a place to “remain”. Jesus will say to his disciples: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me…If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” (Jn 15,4-9) John will later write in his letter to the Church: “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1Jn 4,12-16)
Jesus responds with a simple invitation to “come and see.” Come and see, come and know, come and believe, come and bear much fruit, come and have life in abundance. Jesus invites all who hunger and thirst, who are searching for something more, who are looking for a place to rest: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11,28ff) Every vocation is a call to give our whole lives in love to the Father and to become beloved disciples of Jesus. I am sure that my aunts are rejoicing in heaven that I chose to come to Jesus, to walk with him, to learn from him and to remain always in his love! What are you looking for?