When God created human beings, he did not create us to live in isolation but made us for community. Throughout our entire lives we encounter a variety of individuals who in one way or another influence our life. It can be a one- time encounter, a long term relationship, or a relationship that lasts a lifetime. God sends people into our lives for a purpose and we are called to be sensitive to this.
This helps us in understanding the importance of that first encounter between Jesus and three of the men we meet in today’s Gospel who would later become apostles –Peter, Andrew and John. It is clear that they had a powerful first encounter with Jesus. Years later when John came to pen his Gospel he could remember the exact time of day it was in which the encounter took place, four o’clock in the afternoon.
Obviously from this first encounter with Jesus they were captivated by him. Jesus focused on them and gave them all the time they needed. Certainly they found him to be warm, friendly and welcoming. They knew that they had met a remarkable person, and from that time a deep friendship developed.
Through their time with Jesus they began to discover themselves. Because of the kind of person Jesus was, the three got a vision of what they themselves might become. Jesus certainly had a powerful influence on them.
We need to remember that there is a difference between power and influence. Those who wield power over us oppress us, trying to turn us into copies of themselves. Those who exercise influence on us do not try to convert us, or change us, or mold us into who they want us to be. They accompany us on the journey. They offer us the space in which we can grow and become who God created us to be. Peter, Andrew and John’s encounter with Jesus did just that.
Jesus invites us into a close and loving relationship with him. Each day he invites us to encounter him in prayer, in the Eucharist, and in others. But he never forces himself on anyone. To those who have a desire to know Jesus more intimately, he says what he said to Andrew and John, “Come and see.” To accept the invitation opens up new and wonderful possibilities.
- Father Dennis, January 17, 2021