Dear brothers and sisters, we stand today on the boundary between Christmas and the liturgical ordinary time. The Christmas crib and Christmas trees are gone, we are clothed in green for the cycle of ordinary time. But the readings, especially the Gospel, continue the grace and mystery of Christmas. Jesus was born as a child, came into the world, and was revealed to it. He showed himself to the world. He also spoke and still speaks to the world, in a particular way through his call, of which we hear in the readings and in the Gospel.
"Behold, the Lamb of God!" says John. These words, which we hear at ever Mass, are decisive words. John was a charismatic man, who excited and challenged people. Disciples gathered around him. But John does not want to remain his disciples. He points to Jesus! "Behold the Lamb of God!" With this pointing he fulfills the meaning of his own life. Every one of us seeks meaning in life, and find it in various ways. But very few recognize the meaning of their life so clearly as John. He lives, he exists for one thing alone, to point to Jesus. That is the high point of his life, with which he attains the greatest joy. Now it but remains for Jesus to grow; he, John, may diminish.
What does John set in motion? At first glance it doesn't seem to be anything special. We don't hear of any great stories, any wonders, any astonishing discourses–only a few personal meetings and talks. But these meetings and talks were unforgettable. Certain special happenings – a great, unexpected success, the news of a death or assassination attempt, the "Yes" of a beloved – remain to their small details in our memory. We recall where we were, with whom, when he happened, and so on. It was this way with the disciples who encountered Jesus. This meeting made such an impression on them that they could remember years later at what hour of the day it occurred. It was the tenth hour – 4 PM. And this meeting had so inspired them that they couldn't hold themselves back; they had to go quickly to a relative or friend and say to them, "See whom we have found! He is the one for whom we have all waited, on whom we have set our hope!"
John pointed to Jesus, and the disciples followed him. They felt his mysteriously attractive power, but did not yet really know him. They wanted to know who he really is. So they ask him, "Master, where are you staying?" Where are you at home? What is it like to live with you? Jesus did not give them a quick answer, but invited them: Come and see! Or rather, come and you will see! And this answer developed a lifelong for the disciples. They learned through Jesus' words and through experience that he is a special way present in the Eucharist, as he promises "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." (John 6:56) And they learned that Jesus is in all his beloved friends; he lives in us when we allow him, when we open ourselves to his love.
God calls everyone of us. But there are many forms that God's call takes. It is few who are called as successors of the apostles. It is perhaps few who experience God's call in as impressive a way as Samuel. But what is essential remains the same, that there is someone from whom we somehow hear, "See him! Listen to him! He is the one who fulfills your longing and your hope, who will make you happy!" and that we have the confidence to say this also to others. Or as in Samuel's case, "Listen to these words, to this teaching, to these thought! Thus you will be led well!" And that we are seek to learn every more intimately who Jesus, to ask him anew "Where are you staying?", and to experience his presence with us in the celebration of the Eucharist, and in our fellow men and women.
In this Mass, let us pray that we, who have heard and followed his call to faith, may experience still more this longing to know him, and believe and experience ever more strongly his presence among us.
Readings for this Sunday: 1 Sam 3:3-10,19; 1 Cor 6:13-15,17-20; John 1:35-42