Reflection by Janet Hopper nscj on the Gospel she chose for her entry into the novitiate
Reflection on John 1:35 - 51
It was a hard task choosing which Gospel to have for today. I could have chosen the same as last year, the Annunciation, with all that it contains of Mary's yes, a yes that echoes through eternity and perhaps is a model for our yeses. I almost chose the Magnificat, that beautiful hymn of wonder and thanks for the God who acts in our lives and which became an important part of my retreat.
Then I opened my Bible and this gospel was book marked. After reading and praying with it, it felt right for today as I began to realise it mirrored some of my journey with Jesus. It is a Gospel I have read often and used often in my work with young people because of the gentle invitation to 'come and see'. The first disciples were asked what they were looking for. Jesus wanted to know their desires and when he knew this he didn't tell them they had found it; he didn't give them his manifesto or even tell them what to expect - he invited them on a journey with him. He actually invites them to 'come and see' if he is what they want, what they desire. I was struck by how this invitation has no expectation, there are no conditions or time limits put on it. It requires a freely given response - we can choose to go and see or to not. It is this freedom that allows the Prodigal Son to leave and return home.
Often we can feel as though we are not good enough; I remember talking about this a lot before I wrote my letter asking to be a Candidate. In conversations with rscj at so many gatherings I have heard many people say to me; "None of us are, it's the work of a life time." It struck me looking at this Gospel and then thinking of the twelve we have accounts of that Jesus doesn't call when we are perfect.
Then I noticed something I hadn't noticed or paid attention to before. In this account Jesus only directly calls one person. It is only Philip that Jesus finds and says; "Come, follow me." In the Bible I read this from the Gospel is called; 'Jesus meets the first disciples'. The first two disciples come to Jesus because John the Baptist physically points to Jesus and then Jesus invites them to come and see. Andrew, one of those who John pointed to Jesus, goes to share this encounter with his brother, Simon. It is through Andrew's witness that Simon comes to Jesus and is given the name Cephas. After Jesus calls Philip, Philip shares this news with Nathanael and indeed it is Philip who invites Nathanael to come and see... and because Nathanel knows Philip and trusts him he takes up that invitation.
I am sure we could all think of people who have pointed us towards Jesus throughout our lives, I would imagine we are all here because of someone else. As I prayed with this Gospel many of the people who have pointed me towards Jesus and his invitation came to mind. As I began to think of specific people (family, friends, the parish of St. John the Baptist, the young people and adults I have worked with and the Society of the Sacred Heart) I realised it was an enormous list. There are so many people involved in my journey to this point, people who have shared their encounters of Jesus with me and have helped me be open to his call and action in my life; allowing me to hear and respond to his come and see to me.