The Second Sunday after The Epiphany
January 17, 2021
Can you imagine how excited Jesus’ early followers must have been when they first met him?! Consider Philip's first encounter with Jesus when they met in Galilee. Jesus got straight to the point with his soon-to-be new disciple. Without any cajoling, he simply said to Philip “follow me” more or less commanding him to join Jesus' small band of followers. The Gospel doesn’t tell us if there was more to their encounter than just these few words, but however long or short their conversation, Philip was hooked. Jesus had lit a fire in his new disciple. Bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement, Phillip ran to find his friend, Nathanial, to tell him all about it.
"We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth," he tells Nathanael. But he receives a less than enthusiastic reception from his friend. Nathanael said to him (spoken sarcastically in my imagination),"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" But, confidently, Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Philip risked rejection when he approached Nathanael. He risked being embarrassed. Today, in our setting, he would risk being accused of trying to force his religion on another, of being "evangelical" or even a crackpot. But Philip was strong in his conviction. He seemed to be sure that if he could get Nathanael to meet Jesus, he would be convinced that even if this man were only Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth, he was also the person Jews had hoped for since Moses - the messiah, the savior of the world!
Epiphany calls us to take similar risks. In order to spread the light of Christ, we risk offending others by speaking of faith; but if our hearts are pure and our intentions are good, we will be nothing more than honest witnesses to the love, the truth and the way of Christ. If this is our message, unlike so many other would-be missionaries whose message is one of condemnation and fear, then the unconverted will be at least favorably impressed. They may say to themselves, "these are good people; they speak only of Love."
Of course, there is no guarantee that they will be excited to receive this testimony and be persuaded to follow Jesus, but that's all right. After all, their faith is between them and God. We will have done our part by sharing the light in telling them of God's love; by making the introduction.
Perhaps it's time for you to make this introduction to someone in your life?