It Was About Four in the Afternoon

1 Samuel 3:3b-10,19 / 1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20 / John 1:35-42

I can remember the exact
moment I heard!

As long as I have a memory,
this moment will be carved in it—
I couldn’t forget it—
even if I tried.

It was on a Tuesday morning—
it was between the first and
the second periods of
the seminary class schedule.

I was just getting ready to go
into Fr. John Lodge’s class
on “Pauline Literature”—
the Letters of St. Paul—
I loved that class.

And right before I was
going to walk into the class—
a guy in the class above me—
Tony from the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas—
ran up to me.

And avoiding any notion of personal space—
and with a pain and urgency in his voice—
said, “Our country is under attack!”

And he proceeded to tell me
what he knew about the beginnings of 9/11—
about the planes flying into the World Trade Center—
it was September, 11th, 2001.

The news spread in the hall outside the classroom—
everyone was telling everyone—
you could hear the buzz—
you could feel the buzz.

It was time for class so we went in—
sat in our seats—
still murmuring about what we had heard.
Fr. Lodge came in—
usually a stickler when it came to
his New Testament classes—
but that day—
he just gave us an order—
“Everyone go to your room—
and pray.”

And we did.

I remember so distinctly
the exact moment that I heard about 9/11—
even though it happened 16 ½ years ago.

You know, that’s the way memory works

Emotionally charged situations and events
create long-lasting memories
they create vivid recollections.

Recollections that don’t get etched into our memories—
they get carved into our memories.

With that in mind,
there’s a wonderful line in
the Gospel we just heard.

And if we aren’t careful—
we can just skim right over it—
treat it as a throw-away line—
not appreciating its importance—
not feeling its impact.

John the Baptist is standing with
two of his disciples—

One is Andrew, the future apostle of Jesus—
the brother of Simon Peter.

And the other?

The Gospel doesn’t give us his name—
some speculate that it’s the young John—
the future apostle of Jesus who will become the
one whom Jesus loved the most.

John the Baptist—Andrew—
and John the Beloved are
standing there and Jesus walks by.

And John the Baptist points to Jesus
and says “there goes the Lamb of God.”

“Lamb of God”

Now that gets Andrew’s and John the Beloved’s attention.

“Lamb of God.”

Reminding them of the lamb that
was slain every morning in
the Temple for the sins of the people. (Exodus 29:38-42)

Or reminding them of the lamb sacrificed at
Passover for the Seder meal—
and the blood of the lamb that
was painted over the doorpost of the Israelite
slaves in Egypt so the angel of death
would pass over them.

Or reminding them of the
lamb led to slaughter in the last of
the suffering servant songs in the Prophet of Isaiah— (Isaiah 53:7)
or a combination of all three.

They were intrigued.

So they started following Jesus—
following him like a shadow.

Jesus senses this and turns around and
asks them, “What are you looking for?”

What a great—great question!!!

Andrew and John the Beloved—
quickly respond by calling Jesus
“Rabbi”—“Teacher” and asks Him,
“Where are you staying?”

And Jesus says “Come, and you will see!”
And Andrew and John the Beloved
spend the whole afternoon with Jesus.

And then—in the story—
comes that impactful line
I was talking about!!!

“It happened about 4 in the afternoon.”

“It happened about 4 in the afternoon.”

Of course, they remembered the
exact time this happened.

When they met Jesus—
When they spent the afternoon with Him—
It changed their lives.

That’s the way memory works
when we experience something so emotional—
something so epic for our lives—
that memory gets carved into our memories.

“It happened about 4 in the afternoon.”

Just think—
that remarkable afternoon with Jesus
happened around 30AD.

The Gospel of John was written around 90AD.

So some 60 years later—
John the Beloved remembered the
exact time that he met Jesus.

And after they met Jesus—
They couldn’t stop talking about Him—
There was a buzz—
Andrew immediately goes and tells Peter—
No telling who all John the Beloved told.

And it was the beginning of the beginning—
the beginning of the Church.

So at that moment on that afternoon—
about 4 in the afternoon—
their lives were changed—
the world was changed!!!

Just think of some of the ways
the world has changed because of that moment.

The Church was the first to develop a
welfare system that took care of the
marginal and the weak and those in need.

The first organized and professionally
run welfare system in recorded history—
was started by the Church.

It was the Church that originated
the concept of a hospital.

Christians have always provided
health care for believers and non-believers alike.

Still does.

Surprisingly, the era after the Roman Empire collapsed
turned out to be a period of incredible
agricultural breakthroughs.

Breakthroughs that would revolutionize agriculture.

Breakthroughs like the wheeled plough—
the horse harness—
the nailed horseshoe—
and the three-field crop rotation.

And all of these breakthroughs came
through our monasteries.

Not to mention the concept of the university.

And as we get ready to celebrate
Martin Luther King Day tomorrow—
we are reminded of the role that Christianity
has played in the civil rights movement.

Dr. King was first and foremost—
a pastor and a preacher.

Look what he and so many others did to
advance equal rights for all.

And the beginning of the beginning of all of this—
happened at one specific moment—
at around 4 in the afternoon—
when a couple of guys spent the afternoon with Jesus.

And Jesus changed their lives—
He called them on mission—
a mission to save souls—
and a mission to change the world.

And they said, “Yes!”

And Christians ever since have said their “Yes.”

We are art of something so big—
We are part of something cosmic.

And two thousand years later—
There’s the same God—
The same Jesus—
The same Holy Spirit—
The same Church—
The same Mission—
The same Call.

The same “four in the afternoon moment”—
that Jesus moment—
when we said our “yes”—
a moment that is carved in our memory.

A moment that changed our lives—
and still changes the world.

A moment when Jesus says:
“What are you looking for”–
“Come and See”—
“Come and See.”

Holy Spirit 01/13-14/2018
(See Gobry, “What Catholics Can Learn from Silicon Valley?” America Dec. 25, 2017)

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