St. John Neumann, Bishop
1 John 3:11-21 + John 1:43-51
January 5, 2017
“Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”
It might seem odd that, on a weekday of Christmastide, the Gospel passage illustrates a scene from the life of Jesus as an adult. However, the Gospel narratives of St. John—like those of St. Mark—begin with Jesus already an adult. Today’s Gospel passage, however, does come from the first chapter of John’s Gospel account, in which John narrates “preliminaries” in the unfolding of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus calls first. Calling is the beginning of His ministry. This truth reminds us of God’s respect for human free will. The Christian Faith does not profess a belief in absolute predestination. That is to say, it would make no sense for God to call someone to follow Him if that someone had no freedom to reject or accept God’s call. Human free will, then, is the first point we notice in today’s Gospel scene.
Secondly, today’s Gospel passage presents a double calling. Jesus calls Philip, and Philip calls Nathaniel (also called Bartholomew). This double calling sets before us the truth that Jesus’ call is at times mediated through others. This truth is foundational to the whole of the Gospel, to salvation history, and to the life of each Christian disciple. We must reject the shallow “me and Jesus” approach to Christianity that refuses to admit that God’s grace is mediated to us through others. In turn, we must listen to others not only as fellows, but as potential bearers of God’s Word for us.