‘John was standing with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by. ‘There is the Lamb of God!’ he said. The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus. Jesus turned, saw them following him and asked ‘What are looking for?’ They answered ‘Where do you live Rabbi?’ ‘Come and see he answered’.’ (John 1: 37-39).
This is an invitation to relationship. Jesus began the relationship by saying, “What are you seeking?” (v. 38). We hear Andrew say to his brother, “We have found the Messiah.” At first, they were only seeking where he was staying. Then because they came to him and spent time with him, they saw. The point is that if you come to Jesus, you see. You see the key that unlocks the ultimate meaning of all things.
“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”(John 1: 40-41).
Yes, in today’s Gospel, the disciples have a ‘Eureka’ moment! The Greek text reads “Εὑρήκαμεν τὸν Μεσσίαν, transliterated, ‘heurēkamen ton Messian’, that is, “We have found the Messiah”. Eureka! The ‘Eureka’ moment refers to the common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept. The Eureka effect is named after the myth that the Greek polymath Archimedes, having discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular object, leaped out of a public bath, and ran home shouting "eureka" (I found it). In our own lives, it can be that ‘lightbulb moment’, the ‘aha’ moment, that ‘O, I see moment’, where suddenly the veil is removed from our eyes and we see things clearly, it all makes sense. We all have our Eureka moments!
Jesus does not ask the disciples, “Whom do you seek?” but “What do you seek?” We all search for something or someone. Ultimately we search for Someone, that is, Jesus. Such searching can be arduous, as St. Augustine reminds us: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” Sometimes we live on the crest of the wave when we have had our ‘Eureka’ moment and we realise that we are loved unconditionally by God. We want others to experience this too and like the disciples, we are called to bring them to Christ. However, as Friday’s Gospel, the narrative of the paralytic recalls, often we have to be carried to Christ on the mat of our pain, loneliness, frustration and desolation. We have to trust that others will carry us there to be healed when our own strength is not enough. Similarly, other times we are the ones carrying. God knows, I have reason to be grateful for the amount of times when others have spiritually held me up before God and likewise when He has humbly asked me to carry others to Him, making me realise that I am stronger than I think. All things can be done for his glory.
When we encounter Jesus in a living and life-giving way, our lives are never and can never be the same. In today’s Gospel, Simon gets a new name. In the Synoptic Gospels, we are never told how or when Simon was given the name Peter. We are only told that his name was Peter. Peter is then given a new name, Cephas, which means ‘rock’. The Greek word scandalon (Greek as the original language of the New Testament) is the little pebble that, when unnoticed, causes a person to stumble and fall. I have a certain pair of boots which inevitably seem to attract pebbles like magnets. Even though they are small, they are so uncomfortable. When I would go walking in Canada, without fail, they would end up as ‘companions’ on the walk. I used to try and ignore them but it was not possible. Eventually I would succumb to the discomfort and try to remove them perched on one leg so as to not to put my foot on the freezing snow! Quite a feat I tell you!