Christ the Teacher

RABBI, "WHERE DO YOU LIVE?"- "COME AND SEE", JESUS SAID TO THEM. This exchange took place between Jesus and two men who were to become his trusted disciples. The context in which this brief conversation took place is instructive for us to note since it represents a pattern that regularly marks advances on our way to God. These two men, one of whom was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, were disciples of John the Baptist and were present with him one morning when Jesus passed by. John recognizes him as designated by God to be the Savior and implies as much with words we use at mass before communion: "Behold the Lamb of God.." It was due to John's insight and his speaking out in their hearing that they were led to leave him then and there and follow this person so remarkably designated by their trusted master whom they considered a prophet enlightened by God.

At that point it is Jesus who takes the initiative, not these two. He notices them at a distance, hesitating out of awe at the thought of approaching one so signally honored. The Lord turns and accosts them with a leading question that is an implicit invitation for them to draw closer and treat with him directly. "What are you looking for?", he asks. His manner is reassuring and so they are able to express their interest in getting to know him. "RABBI, WHERE DO YOU LIVE?" They inquired. " COME AND SEE", Jesus said in return. As the text informs us they then accompanied the Lord to his dwelling and spent the rest of the day with him. That encounter changed their lives and marked the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. In meeting him, getting to know him personally, they found their true vocation, and, as the sequel indicates, they persevered in following him, not without opposition from their fellow Jews, some stumbling, doubts and even serious failures, to the end. Andrew, the tradition tells us, died a martyr after living an active and successful life as a preacher of the Gospel.

The saint we commemorate at this mass, Elizabeth Ann Seton, exemplifies one of the many variations of this pattern in her own vocation which proved so influential for the Church and the spread of the Gospel. She had followed the light as she had been taught from her youth in the Episcopalian Church and in married life. But the time came when, after her husband's early death, Catholic friends in Italy pointed out to her that there was another way to follow Jesus. She was confident that it was his voice inviting her, and when she drew nearer it was as if she saw where he lived and so came into the Church of Rome. Opposition to her conversion was strong, above all by a close Episcopalian friend, but she remained convinced and faithful to her call. She knew poverty and loneliness, for she was deserted by her former friends. When a priest told her that she would do well to found a girl's school she again heard his witness as prophetic and started on what turned out to be her fruitful vocation as a foundress. The Sisters of Charity continue her mission of teaching and helping the poor in a number of countries today. Finding her true vocation did not preserve her from the cross; if she spoke of remaining patient when criticized and in the face of murmuring, surely it was from experience as superior that she had learned the need for such interior virtue. Even the saints were misunderstood and misinterpreted by people they lived with, and she was no exception.

In one way or another each of us is called by the voice of Jesus to follow him. This call is addressed to us as a rule only after some one we encounter gives us a more or less direct indication that God is guiding us in some new way that takes us closer to his Son. Following this invitation does not by any means resolve all our problems or remove us from temptations that can be heavy at times, but the Lord does bring us the grace and strength we need to prove faithful and to persevere. As we offer this sacrifice of the Eucharist this evening, we are given a special pledge in the communion we receive that it is indeed Jesus himself who invites us to draw closer to him, to come aside with him and discover by experience where he abides. Once we know him we realize he is trustworthy and that we can be confident that his grace will not fail us in time of need. May we learn to hear him with the ear of the heart when he speaks to us, either directly or through another. And by the grace of this Eucharist may we respond generously to his invitation to abide with him and discover for our self who he truly is. The rest will follow as we persevere in seeking daily to deepen this loving knowledge that unites us with

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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