Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (1: 43-51) in which, Jesus calls Philip and Nathaniel to follow him.
In this third reading of this week, Fr Paul notes, we hear Jesus’ gathering of the first group of disciples. Why is it placed here, just at the beginning of the year? It seems that they are preparing for the mission ahead, and we are given different impressions of the community which will carry the word about Jesus to the world. These three readings are followed by the Baptism of Jesus, by the wonder of the wine at Cana, by the feeding of the new People of God and by Jesus’ initial proclamation according to Luke, made in the synagogue at Nazareth, declaring that he will carry the Good News of the Spirit to the gentiles. All these things suggest the formation of the community of disciples, the preparation for their mission. As such, they suggest a direction for any Christian for the year which is beginning. Three moments are particularly significant in the today’s reading. Firstly, Philip uses the same phrase as Jesus did when he invited the first pair of disciples, ‘Come and see’. This again stresses the vital pre-requisite: we must be with Jesus and get to know and love him more and more. Secondly, the heightening of the confession of Jesus. Philip speaks of Jesus as the Messiah foretold by the prophets, but then Nathanael raises this to ‘Rabbi, you are Son of God’; this is a full confession, which in the synoptic Gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew is not made by any human being until the centurion at the foot of the Cross at Jesus’ crucifixion. Thirdly, when Jesus comes to speak, the sky’s the limit, and his description of Jacob’s Ladder – the ascending and descending – tells us of the constant flow of communication with heaven by means of the Spirit. Mindful of the Gospel and this reflection, Fr Paul says, the Gospel lesson for today is that with the support of a community of faith we can spread the word and get others to ‘come and see’.