Scripture: Lectionary for Second Sunday (ordinary time) # 66. I Samuel 3:3-10.19 Psalm 40: 2.4.7-8. 8-9 10. I Corinthians 6:13-15.17-20. John 1:35-42
Unlike the Synoptic Gospels (Mt.Mk.Luke), John does not give us a listing of the twelve apostles (disciples). John introduces them through their personal call by Jesus. We learn that they, or at least the ones mentioned today by John, were followers of John the Baptist. John was a very common name meaning “God is gracious). There may be three named John within the Gospel of John and one of them may be the cherished “Beloved Disciple.” The story of the callings in John is more natural and even more descriptive as we learn from the rest of chapter one in the great theological Gospel of the Fourth Evangelist.
We see the humility and detachment of the Baptist in pointing out to them the Lamb of God (the word can also mean “servant”) and not holding on to those two or three mentioned at the start of the callings of Jesus. Even the hour of their meeting Jesus is given by the Evangelist and the clear words of Jesus to “Come and see” for themselves where Jesus lives and who he is.
Scholars tell us there is a revelatory formula used in the Gospel of John which begins with the word “Behold” and then points to some specific person being seen or mentioned. Thus when the Baptist says “Behold! The Lamb of God, he is giving his disciples a divine revelation. This is found later in the Gospel during the Passion of Jesus and at the Foot of the Cross in chapter nineteen.
Andrew is the first apostle-disciple to be named in this Gospel. The other two are Peter and an unnamed apostle (most likely the Beloved Disciple who traditionally is called John). Scholars for the past two hundred years have wrestled with the questions who exactly is the Beloved disciple and what is his role in the life of Jesus? Father Raymond E. Brown, of happy memory, thought at first that it was John, the son of Zebedee but then questioned whether that is certain historically.
Brown and the great English scholar of the Fourth Gospel named Edwyn Clement Hoskyns give us the most plausible interpretations of who the Beloved Disciple is.
Hoskyns states, “ The Evangelist has suppressed the names. If this be recognized, , the passage properly belongs to the problem of the Beloved or Other Disciple whom the Evangelist’s narrative of the Passion and Resurrection remains also unnamed, and who is moreover, as her closely associated with Peter (13:23-25, 18:15,16, 20:2—10, 21:7,20-23, cf. 19:26,27,35).”(The Fourth Gospel, page 180).
This passage is excellent for the calling of the disciples then and in our time. It does not mean that it is a calling for priests and brothers and sisters. We are all included in this and most of us will remain unnamed. Philipp Mueller says, “Anyone, who like the Beloved Disciple, rests at Jesus’ side will receive a deeper view of reality and of the meaning of discipleship—wherever such a path may lead.” (Theology Digest, Summer 2010, page.157). So be it. Amen.