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St. John Neumann, Bishop

Reading 1 John 3:11-21
Gospel John 1:43-51

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Everyone knows that Christmastide is about the beginning of Jesus’ human life. But this holy season is about other beginnings, as well. In today’s Gospel passage, from the first chapter of John’s Gospel account, John narrates “preliminaries” in the unfolding of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus calls first. Calling is the beginning of His ministry. This truth reminds us of God’s respect for human free will. The Christian Faith does not profess a belief in absolute predestination. That is to say, it would make no sense for God to call someone to follow Him if that someone had no freedom to reject or accept God’s call. Human free will, then, is the first point we notice in today’s Gospel scene.

Secondly, today’s Gospel passage presents a double calling. Jesus calls Philip, and Philip calls Nathaniel. This double calling sets before us the truth that Jesus’ call is at times mediated through others. This truth is foundational not only to salvation history as a whole, but also to the life of each Christian disciple. We must teach those in our care to reject the shallow “me and Jesus” approach to Christianity that refuses to admit that God’s grace is mediated to us through others. In turn, we ourselves must listen to others not only as fellows, but as potential bearers of God’s Word for us.