So, they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. John 1:39
That must have been the best time of their whole life, the time spent “hanging out” with Jesus.
This is the ideal picture of discipleship which the gospel of John has to offer, and it pairs up with the other fascinating picture offered by the 1st reading of young Samuel opening to the Lord and to the Lord’s voice.
“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
If we were to reshape our life by modeling it after these two pictures, psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, specialists, lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, counselors and many, many others would have very little to do, and life would be so much more enjoyable for ourselves and for all those around us.
Of course, we would never be so rude as to say to the Lord: “Do not try to speak to me now because, don’t you see, I am very busy praying to you; I have got a million things to do and to ask; I do not have time to sit down and listen to you.”
Yet, it is a lesson that we have trouble learning because it is the result of applied grace.
We can be ready to drop everything and listen to the Lord only after we surrender control of our life over to him, one day at the time: actually, one hour, one minute at the time.
I am speaking to you from direct experience. I think that I am more productive now after the lesson which God taught me through my first Regional Superior, almost 50 years ago.
He was a holy man who died at age 44 after a long and most painful bout with cancer.
Seeing me bustling around nervous and uptight, in a very kind way he told me that, whenever his day looked overwhelming and frighteningly busy, he would drop everything and spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
In the silence of the chapel, the Lord would “rearrange” my Superior’s tasks; interpret events for him; solve sticky problems; and fill him with incredible energy.
It is a lesson that I applied to my life reluctantly, half-heartedly at first; and only many years later, I embraced wholeheartedly.
My dear brothers and sisters, we can recite tons of prayers, every day; but that is not necessarily much profitable to us spiritually.
If we were honest and open-minded enough, we would acknowledge that.
All that talking to the Lord would reduce the time that we would leave for him to talk to us.
I guess that when we get tired of confessing the same sins over and over, and over again, we might be ready to say to the Lord: “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” and truly mean it.
Whenever we place ourselves in a genuine listening mode and give the Lord some quality time by refusing to let our worries and our anxieties rule our life, things begin to change dramatically.
The first thing that would become self-evident would be that the Lord had been talking to us all along, but we thought that the messages were coming from different sources.
Very seldom, practically never, does the Lord speak in a vision or through an angel. God’s preferred way of talking to us is through ordinary events, through people in our family, co-workers, even perfect strangers and, most surely, through innocent children.
Other subjects considered by the Lord whenever we are in a listening mode, would be to prioritize our tasks and concerns not according to the world, but according to the values of the Gospel.
The Lord would also address our inner pain; shed light on our darkness and confusion; lift our downcast spirit; soothe our bitterness and resentment; and cajole us into surrendering to him bigger and bigger chunks of our life.
Let me be very explicit: there are readily identifiable people who, we are convinced, are the reasons for our pain, darkness, confusion, downcast spirit, even bitterness, and resentment.
For years, for decades, maybe, we might have lived lives of frustration, convinced that if those specific people were out of the picture of our life, everything would have become alright, simple, even beautiful, and enjoyable.
See? This is the type of foolishness that might rule our life until we learn to place ourselves in a true listening mode.
Let us not forget that the Lord alone has the whole picture of the world, our life included, before his eyes!
It is the Lord who has purposely placed those pesky people in our life! And he alone can tell us why he put them there and how we can learn to enjoy life and bear fruit along with them rather than despite them.
Finally, whenever we place ourselves in a listening mode before the Lord, we would understand why John the Baptist points at him and introduces him as the “Lamb of God.”
Jesus, as Lamb of God, is the pattern of our life as disciples of his. Like the paschal lamb, Jesus shed his innocent Blood for our sake.
We are called to do the same for each other. We are to live out his new commandment of loving each other as he loved us from the cross.
These, I think, are the major topics upon which Jesus would touch if we decided to “hang out” with him.
So, I wonder how many of us, wising up, are now ready to tell him: “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” and really mean it for the rest of our life on earth.