“What are you looking for?” (John 1:37).
The First Letter of John establishes the necessary link between love of God and love for one another. If we want to know God, then we must look for and respond to God in our brothers and sisters. John insists on this to point of asking, “How can you say that you love God whom you do not see if you do not love your brother or sister whom you can see?” (1 John 4:20).
This is the mystery of the Incarnation, the belief that our encounter with God occurs in our human relationships, for God is with us. This is clear from the beginning of John’s Gospel as Jesus immediately gathers a community around himself. His redemptive mission is not to just demonstrate holiness in himself but to create a network of healed and reconciled relationships that will model the new humanity. By choosing and calling each disciple, he gathers fragmented and alienated individuals into the process of becoming the collective wholeness of the restored beloved community.
The call of the first disciples, directed to Jesus by John the Baptist, whose role as precursor is complete, shows the intimacy of this process of gathering. Andrew and another former disciple of John follow Jesus from the Jordan. Jesus turns and asks them what they are looking for. They say, “Where are you staying?” This can also mean, “Who are you?” to explore someone’s views and purpose.
Jesus says to them, “Come and see,” a simple and beautiful invitation to begin their relationship with him, for they will “stay with him.” From these first followers, the circle will expand to include others, and ultimately even you and me.
In the call of Peter, we see the transformative power of Jesus, who sees Peter with a look that goes to heart of who he is and who he is to become. Simon, "a reed" blowing in the wind, will become Peter, "a rock" on which the faith of the church will be grounded.
Jesus knows each one of us in this same way, and the look of love he shines into the recesses of our being as we seek him contains the full story of our discipleship. He wants us to “come and see,” and to “stay with him.” For in saying yes to his call, we will become our real selves and complete our life’s purpose within the beloved community that is his body, both crucified and risen and destined for life in God.