Friday, November 30, 2012

The Dawning of a New, Different Humanity

The next day again John was standing
with two of his disciples;
and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God!"
The two disciples heard him say this,
and they followed Jesus.
Jesus turned,
and saw them following,
and said to them,
"What do you seek?"
And they said to him, "Rabbi,
where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come and see."
They came and saw where he was staying;
and they stayed with him that day,
for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two who heard John speak,
and followed him,
was Andrew,
Simon Peter's brother.
He first found his brother Simon,
and said to him,
"We have found the Messiah."

John 1:35-41

Msgr. Luigi Giussani reflects on what must have happened to Andrew on that day, and how it changed him:

"At last came this John, called the Baptist, living in such a way that all the people were struck by him and, from the Pharisees to the humblest peasant, they left their homes to go hear him speak, at least once. That day, we don't know whether there were many or a few, but two were there for the first time, and they were entirely eager, open-mouthed, in the attitude of people who had come from far away, and see what they had come to see with boundless curiosity, with a poverty of spirit, with a childish simplicity of heart.
"At a certain point, a person left the group and went off along the path leading up the river. When He moved off, the prophet John the Baptist, suddenly inspired, cried out, 'That is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.' The people didn't take much notice […] but those two, open-mouthed, with eyes wide open like children, saw where the Baptist's eyes were looking: at that man who was walking away.
"So, instinctively, they set off after Him, followed Him, timid and a little embarrassed. He realized that someone was following Him. He turned around. 'What do you want?' 'Master,' they replied, 'where do You live?' 'Come and see,' He said kindly. They went 'and saw where He lived, and stayed the whole of that day with Him.'
"We can easily identify with those two sitting there, watching that man speak of things they had never heard, yet so close, so fitting, so resounding. […] They did not understand; they were simply captivated, drawn, overwhelmed by Him speaking. They watched Him speak. Because it is by 'watching' […] that some people realized that among them there was something indescribable: a Presence not only unmistakable but incomprehensible, and yet so penetrating; penetrating because it corresponded to what their heart was waiting for, in a way beyond all compare.
"Their fathers and mothers had never told them with such evidence and efficacy what made the years of their life worth living. They hadn't been able to, couldn't have known how; they had said many other right and good things, but like fragments of something they had to try to grasp in the air to see if one matched with the other. A profound correspondence.
"Little by little as the words came to them, and their eyes, full of wonder and admiration, penetrated that man; they felt themselves changing, felt that things were changing: the echo of things changed, the meaning of things changed.
"And when they went home that evening, as the day came to an end–probably walking most of the journey in silence, because they had never spoken to each other as they did in that great silence in which an Other was speaking, in which He went on speaking and echoing within them, and they reached home, Andrew's wife saw him and said, 'What's happened to you Andrew?', and the children, too, looked at their father astonished: he was himself, but 'more' himself; he was changed. It was himself, but he was different.
"And when–as we said once, moved, with an image that is easy to bring to mind because it's so realistic–she asked him, 'What's happened?', he embraced her, Andrew embraced his wife and kissed his children: it was him, but he had never embraced her like that! It was like the dawning of a new, different humanity, a truer humanity.
"It was as if he were saying, 'At last!' without believing his own eyes. But it was too clear for him not to believe his own eyes!"