Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Magnetism. On one level, it’s that physical phenome- non in which a bar of iron or steel can attract other iron. It can grab on to almost any metallic object from a coin to a car and everything in between. It’s the “glue” that holds the photo- graphic memories of a family on the refrigerator door.
On another level, the word refers to those features of a person that makes him or her attractive. In the case of Our Lord Jesus, we have not only attraction but also the fact that He is both human and divine. The gospels give us glimpses of both. Jesus at one time raises a dead man to life but at another time He is caught napping in the stern of St. Peter’s boat.
In the gospel passage we read today, John our author gives us all the subjects and verbs of the incident, but none of the adjectives or adverbs. We hear that two former disciples of the Baptist were sent after the Lord. They experienced in turn His magnetism. But how did their faces look? And how did Jesus’ own face look? Or with what tone of voice did Jesus have when He asked them “What are you looking for?” John doesn’t say.
I surmise a smile and a welcoming arm gesture when Jesus invited them to come and see where He was stay- ing. However John steps out of character to note the time of day when this happened. Maybe because this incident marked the hour of the first calling of people that Jesus gave.
We find out the name of one of the men was Andrew. He in turn introduces his brother Simon to the Lord. Simon gets a new name, along with a new calling. The magnetic attraction of Jesus usually involves a change in the other’s life.
I believe it follows that we have an opportunity this January day to reflect on our own calling from the Lord. While each of us is unique, we also have a common call as Catholic Christians to “introduce” others, so to speak, to Jesus. A sad fact is that the largest group of people in our country in terms of religious affiliation are the “nones.” People with no connection to any religion. I believe we have a call to introduce them to Jesus. And we can do that more by our actions than by words. The action of our Christian lifestyle, which has a built in magnetism of its own.
The story is told of the captain of a Mississippi riverboat who, as his ship passed another vessel, grabbed the first passenger he saw and said, “Look, look over there on the other boat, Look at its captain.” The man was some- what bewildered and asked, “Why do you want me to look at that captain? What makes him so special?”
Then the captain told him the story of how he had collided one night with another boat. His own vessel was foundering and in the process he was thrown overboard. The captain of the other vessel saw his desperate plight and maneuvered close enough that he was able to dive into the water and save his life.
After telling the story, the once-saved captain then turned to the bystander and said, “Ever since that day, I want to point out my rescuer to others.” Likewise, as a people who have been magnetically attracted by Jesus, and been saved, secured and loved by Him, we should want to point out to others the God-Man who has rescued us from the consequences of our sins.
God love you, and give you His peace!