2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B - John 1:35-42 -
Victor Hugo in Les Miserables wrote, "To love another is
to see the face of God." Hugo was speaking figuratively. But John the Baptist and Andrew had the good fortune to see the authentic face of God. Immediately they fell in love with Christ for life and were never the same again. It was love at first sight.
Today's Gospel is the word painting of two extraordinary people. One is John the Baptist, who gets much attention and does not like it. The other is Andrew who is put on everyone's back burner and could not care less.
At this point, John is the star of the show. He is surrounded by great numbers. He is lionized by the press. People travel hundreds of miles on foot to hear him. Everybody wants a piece of him. And yet the Baptist is about to throw all that adulation overboard. Standing before him is One whom he cannot ignore. It is the Messiah. At this point, Jesus is a non-person as far as John's admirers are concerned. It is John who puts the spotlight on Him. The only loser will be himself. Perhaps then we can better understand why John is the only person of whom Jesus says He stands in awe.
The day before this Gospel opens, John was surrounded by a mob of fans. He points to Christ and announces Him as the Main Man. The Baptist is eager to step back into the desert. His job as Christ's "advance man" is ending. Life in the fast lane is not to his taste.
In the Gospel, John stands with two fans. One is our Andrew. The other is not identified. Many scholars assume it was John, today's author. Modesty forbade him mentioning his own name.
Once again, their leader points to the Nazarene and identifies Him as the Chairman of the Board. And, as John foresaw and even hoped, the two tipped their turbans to their now former guru and followed Christ. They were unknowingly following out a plan that had been programmed from day one.
There could not have been an ounce of envy in the Baptist's person. He had his fifteen minutes of fame. Willingly he surrenders his notoriety to the better man. If your problem is pride, John the Baptist is your medicine man. He will teach you "no one has ever choked to death from swallowing his own pride."
The Christ plays the host and invites Andrew and his friend to stay with him. He was hardly bunking at the Jordan Hilton. In most probability, the Hilton in question was a primitive hut along the Jordan River. One can still observe these huts set up along the riverbank. They are built by farmers so that they can guard their crops from night poachers. I suspect that both Andrew and his friend kept Jesus up into the early hours with their questions. When did He sleep? What a pity we do not know even a fraction of their conversation into that morning! Oh, for even a twenty dollar tape-recorder.
At dawn, Andrew rolls out of his sleeping bag. He does not even take time for cappucino and an onion bagel. He is most anxious to introduce his brother Peter to their extraordinary Host. Peter too was bedding down in the area. He had walked down from Caphernaum in Galilee with Andrew to check the Baptist out for himself. Andrew makes the proper introductions. Then he willingly surrenders front stage to Peter.
From this point on, Andrew will lose his identity. He will be spoken of constantly as the brother of Peter. It will be his fate to live in his brother's shadow. But there is no hint of sibling rivalry between them. While Peter will be referred to ninety times in the Gospels, Andrew will be referred to seldom.
Even though Andrew was a charter member of the apostles, it was his fate never to become a member of Christ's inner circle or kitchen cabinet. Yet, there is no evidence that this ever upset him. He was willing to play second fiddle.
His gripes about riding in the back of the bus, had he made them, would have been legitimate. Were we in his sandals, we would have sounded off. But Andrew was willing to be the low man on the totem pole. He considered himself a winner just to be numbered among Christ's company. So should we. Most of us have been lucky in life but never luckier than to be Jesus's follower.
Andrew advises us that when we tell others what Jesus can do for them, we should first tell them what He has done for us.