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.
“[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.