Sunday Reflection:The call of the Apostles, according to John

There's a lot of humor in Scripture, which we miss because we're so busy trying to take it seriously. Today's gospel is a case in point.

John the Baptist is busy doing his thing by the Jordan -- baptizing people, scolding the scholarly and legal communities and rippin' Herod a new one. He sees Jesus coming toward him and launches into a big speech about how Jesus ranks before him and will baptize with the Holy Spirit, and how John saw a dove come from the sky and float above him.

And then, according to the gospel, an amazing thng happens: nothing! Nobody makes a move to follow or even greet this supposedly amazing person!

Luckily for the Church, Jesus happened to be in the area again the next day. John sees him again and gets a little more specific. "Behold! The Lamb of God!" You'd have to be an idiot to miss the point, especially two days in a row, so two of John's disciples take off after Jesus. Only, they're not exactly sure what they're supposed to do. Do they talk to him? Ask him questions? Just watch him and hope for the best?

It's Jesus who breaks the ice. "What are you looking for?" he asks. For all he knows, they could be robbers or mental cases. And here's where the unintentional humor comes in. The two disciples (we later learn one of them was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother) haven't got their act together yet. What do you say to the guy who has been fingered as the Messiah by a person of integrity and authority like J the B? "So...," they start, " are you staying?"

It's the equivalent of meeting the pope and saying, "So, your Holiness, nice weather we're having!" or "Well, then! How was the traffic on the way from the airport?"

But Jesus is terrific. "Come and see!" he says. And on this note of awkward discomfort on the part of the questioners and undeserved kindness on the part of the responder, the ministry of Jesus takes off.

At a loss for words, we raise our voices in prayer to God. What prayer form should we use? The Rosary? The Lord's Prayer? The spiritual exercises of someone or other? This church? That church? Unsure of how to begin or continue our personal journeys of faith, we fall back on familiar cliches and behavior patterns, embarrassed that we are so damned shallow and that (for all our education and experience) we have no profundity of spirit or greatness of heart.

And as with his disciples, Jesus answers the badly-formed questions we ask, inviting us deeper into his life, preparing us for the next stupid question and the next, until we are inextricably bound into his life and following him in spite of ourselves.