IT WAS ABOUT FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON

Today’s Gospel reading is John 1:35-42:

“35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” 37 The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Kephas” (which is translated Peter).”

The passage is rich–but what jumped out at me was “It was about four in the afternoon.” Why is that relevant?

We often know what time of day events took place in the Gospels. The disciples and Jesus’ followers found the empty tomb in the morning. Jesus met Mary Magdalene in the garden in the morning. Morningn can also be a terrible time of anxiety. He also came before the high priests after a sleepless night and was questioned in the morning.

He met the woman at the well at high noon.

It was night when he went out on the boat and walked on water. The Last Supper…The Agony in the Garden…

Four o’clock is toward Vespers, toward dusk. It’s not quite five o’clock when the very last workers came to the vineyard, but it’s toward the end of the day. Our hardest work is done. We’re feeling a little more relaxed, a little mellow. After walking the road to Emmaus, four o’clock might have been about the time the disciples asked the man who had made their hearts burn within them if he wanted to join them in the breaking of bread.

One point is that all time is consecrated, hallowed. There is not a moment out of the 24 hours when Christ was not at some point awake, keeping watch, pondering, praying, preaching, healing. But there is always something especially holy about the approach of dusk. Millet captured it beautifully.

JEAN-FRANÇOIS MILLET, THE ANGELUS, 1857-1859

“[I]f prayer and love mean anything at all they mean entering into a dialogue with God. The essential starting point for this must be that we on our part are ready to listen, open and attentive to the Word. ‘The disciple is to be silent and listen.’ How can you hear the Word until you are silent? Monks should diligiently cultivate silence at all times.’ When St Benedict devotes one chapter to the keeping of silence (in addition to the many references scattered throughout the Rule) it is about much more than not speaking. He is as concerned about the cessation of the inner noise as of the external chatter…Unless I am silent I shall not hear God, and until I hear him I shall not come to know him.”
–Esther de Waal, Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict

Speaking of dusk…the day has gotten away from me! I spent at least three hours booking a single flight, more on that later as it is time for my Vespers walk and prayer. Also tennis season is again in full swing. Brisbane, Auckland…I do have Tennis Channel Plus.

More on silence, humility, and Bishop Fulton Sheen, with whom I’m just barely becoming acquainted.

THIS WAS THE SKY LAST NIGHT AS I HEADED HOME…

10 Replies to “IT WAS ABOUT FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON”

  1. Cynthia Merrill says: Reply

    Dear Heather: Thank you for “nattering” about all the subjects I’m interested in as well! Into The Silence was a wonderful drought of pure contemplative hardiness and daily perseverance. It left me longing for such discipline but I know I’d never last! Fulton Sheen is very bracing! Try Father Roger Landry’s homilies sometime at catholicpreaching.com. He’s spectacular.
    Enjoying all your writing and speaking!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Christ had a deep heart for those who were willing to make fools of themselves…Zacchaeus; the blind man who stepped out from the crowd; the little children who he suffered to come unto him though the disciples wanted to shoo them away…so I think we share our love for him and our hunger for him as and how we can…if my natterings land with even one person, so much the better. “Pure contemplative hardiness”–what a great phrase, and yes, we are left longing for such discipline…however, even a tiny step forward is something. Thanks so much for the Fr. Roger Landry tip–exploring and so far liking what I hear, plus he has that great Massachusetts accent which rings to me of home…

  2. Bob & Stella Rueger says: Reply

    I have such wonderful memories of Bishop Fulton Sheen. Shen I was a teen ager I can remember my family taking in ThE Bishop on Tuesdat night @ 8:00 PM, opposite Milton Berle. His closing words, “God Love You”.
    Than you Heather for remimding me & My wife.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Wonderful, Bob, I didn’t grow up with him (though I’m of an age to have done so) as I was raised Protestant…but I’m exploring some of his talks now…obviously still very much relevant today…Blessed 2024 and God love you!

  3. The Litany of Humility has made me realize how badly I’m in need of it. When I first began, I couldn’t see or feel in my heart for many of the lines- not me!! But now- every single line that I pray, I get a gentle nod from my soul. Regarding talking with other like minded, “oddballs and outsiders”- of which I am one, of course- have you thought of creating a time on Zoom where you could meet and talk with your readers? Also, don’t know if you’re looking specifically for Catholic but I listen to a Scotsman, Alistair Begg. Puritan protestant I believe. He’s out of Parkside Church in Cleveland. Very solid. Thanks again for enriching our souls, soul sista’!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      You’re so right, Elizabeth–even now, I look at the lines of the Litany of Humility and feel…nothing…if not outright antagonism/hostility to them as I’m actually longing with all my heart to be loved, extolled, preferred et cetera! Then I get to realize all over again that the Litany of Humility isn’t meant to erase our personalities or make us into doormats or relegate us to the dustbin of every social and human encounter but rather to FREE us so we can enjoy those encounters to the hilt…A priest friends says that if you ever want to take your spiritual temperature, see how you react internally when someone who does the same thing you do for vocation or work is praised in your presence…ha!!

      Thanks for the zoom suggestion–I offered that a couple of times during COVID lockdown…could be fun/fruitful…would prob want to come up with a topic or theme if you have any…I’m going to take under advisement and will perhaps float the possibility in a post soon. Meanwhile, Happy New Year!

  4. Lizzie Hastings says: Reply

    Happy new year and happy Christmas to you dear Heather! Thank you for your recent posts-what a gift you and your words are, as ever. As I read today’s gospel, this same exact verse struck me too although I didn’t grasp any particular thought or sense as to why it struck me when I read it this morning. Your piece has helped round out my day by deepening my perception of the verse and giving me something to focus on. I love the reminder that Jesus is in EVERY MOMENT. God is so good and kind and goodness, do we ever need each other as we journey with the Lord! I’m so grateful for you.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Aw, bless you and Happy 2024 to you, Lizzie, over there in the great UK…It’s been a great gift to stay faithful to the Office and to do the Ignatian Exercises, which of course encourage deep reading of Scripture….wouldn’t it be great to take a walk with Jesus around 4 in the afternoon?…Or really anytime…grateful for your loyalty, readership and kind spirit…

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    I have a copy of Into Great Silence, and it is fascinating. I love how it begins and ends showing a monk deep in prayer. The monk feeding the cats is such a fun scene! And I love the scene where the novices are welcomed by each monk. I crave that kind of quiet, God-centered life.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Yes, and it’s interesting how you sense the deep deep bond that is formed among the monks in spite of the fact, or maybe BECAUSE ,they rarely speak…

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