In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 1:35-42), Jesus gains followers. One of these followers, Andrew, is intrigued when his friend John the Baptist calls Jesus “the lamb of God,” and upon hearing Jesus teaching, Andrew begins following Jesus, literally and figuratively. Convinced Jesus is the Messiah, Andrew finds his brother Simon Peter and invites him to come follow Jesus as well. In this reading, we see that it is through relationships that people are called to be disciples of Jesus. Another way of saying this is that the Spirit works through people’s relationships, awakening their hearts to the truth of Jesus Christ.
At the Catholic high school I attended, students usually ended up with different religion teachers each trimester. My first year there I had the odd fortune of having Mr. G for three trimesters in a row. Even though I was really quiet, Mr. G got to know me, perhaps because I was the only consistent presence in his freshman religion classes. Toward the end of the school year, Mr. G caught up to me after class one day to ask if I would be interested in going on a day-long service trip to a halfway house and soup kitchen. I told him I would have to think about it and made a hasty retreat.
As I tried to decide what to do, two fears played in my mind: (1) What it would mean to miss a full-day of school? (I took academics a little too seriously and doubted there was much for which it would be worth missing school.) (2) Would I have anyone to talk to on the trip? (Given my first fear, you probably figured out I was a nerd and not the best in social situations.) These were the two fears I could admit to myself, but they covered a third, even bigger fear, one that only tickled my subconscious: (3) What would it be like to interact with people who lived in a halfway house and to serve lunch to clients of a soup kitchen?
Given these fears, I had all but talked myself out of the service trip. But then Mr. G approached me again. He kindly said he thought it would be a good experience for me to go on the fieldtrip and that he would like it if I came along. I didn’t know how to say no, so instead I said yes.
To this day, I am grateful to Mr. G for his invitation. That one day was crucial for my faith journey, because for the first time I saw and understood that not everyone lived a comfortable life like my family. I understood that being Catholic is not just believing the right things but also about enacting a preferential option for the poor. In retrospect, I see the Spirit’s work in my relationship with Mr. G. He called me to do something I found uncomfortable, but I chose to follow and thus deepened my understanding of what it means to be a disciple.
When you think about your own faith journey, through which relationships have you been called to be a disciple of Jesus?
Through which relationships might you be calling others to come and see?
How has the Spirit worked in your relationships?