Second Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B
As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi, ‘ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.
One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.
John “stared hard” at Jesus. Jesus “looked hard” at Simon Peter. These were moments of recognition.
John pointed out Jesus to his disciples. Andrew took Simon Peter to Jesus. These were acts of connection.
Recognition and connection are at the heart of how we relate to one another. We recognize people and we introduce people we know to one another. These actions create networks which build and strengthen communities. They create routes for the passage of ideas and knowledge. It was this process which began the growth of the community of disciples of Jesus, a community which would spread through continents and centuries.
To stare or look hard at another person is to engage at a deep level. In Peter’s case it must have felt as if Jesus was looking into his soul. A similar intensity marked John’s encounter with Jesus. They were moments of recognition of something profound about another; but the recognition was the product of revelation rather than being human in nature.
Glancing at another person, perhaps with a quick smile, acknowledges their presence. It is certainly better than ignoring a person. Sometimes our prayer can be like acknowledging Jesus by glancing at him, rather than “looking hard”. It does not lead to the intensity of engagement which allows him to draw us into a deeper understanding of who he is and who we are. It is that deeper engagement which inspires in us the desire to connect others to Jesus.
There is a very well known story about St John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars. A farmer used to visit the parish church daily, and one day the Curé asked him what he did in the church. The farmer replied that he came to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “I just look at Him, and He looks back at me," said the farmer.