RABBI, WHERE ARE YOU STAYING?
(A biblical reflection on the SECOND ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR B], 14 January 2017)
Gospel Reading: John 1:35-42
First Reading: 1Samuel 3:3-10,19; Psalms: Psalm 40:2,4,7-10; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20
The Scripture Text
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” (which means Teacher), “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” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). (John 1:35-42 RSV)
In today’s Gospel reading, two of John the Baptizer’s disciples address Jesus as “Rabbi”, which means “teacher”. In those days, a rabbi was the most educated person in a city or town and because he was usually the only one who could read or write fluently, the people paid him a great deal of respect.
There were two types of rabbis in Jesus’ day. The first type used the Sacred Scripture to teach Jewish boys how to read and write in the synagogue school. These boys were preparing for the day when they would become adults in their faith, obligated to following all of the Jewish laws.
The second type of rabbi, a master rabbi, taught other men how to be rabbis and provided his disciples with food and shelter while he instructed them. The disciples, in turn, worked for the master rabbi. Jesus was this type of rabbi.
Because both types of rabbis were knowledgeable about the Sacred Scripture and because that’s where the Jewish laws are, the townspeople consulted the rabbis whenever they had a question about how they should interpret a particular law. Sometimes, lively public debates took place when two or more rabbis offered different opinions. Since there are many examples of people coming to Jesus seeking His advice, we can conclude that Jesus also engaged in public debates with the other rabbis of His day.
The rabbi was not the Jewish version of a priest or minister. Rabbis did not (and still do not) lead the synagogue services, and they did not offer sacrifices in the Temple. Rather, teaching was their main function.
Religious education was very important to the Jewish people who lived in Jesus’ day. It was a lifelong pursuit and not something only children engage in.
Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 160-161.)
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, You ask me what do I seek. Pour Your grace into me now and show me my soul’s answer. Heal me where I need to be healed that I might follow You with my whole heart, soul, and strength and bring others to You. I also pray for catechists and other religious educators who teach in my parish. Amen.
Jakarta, 11 January 2018
A Christian Pilgrim