The Role of Invitation in Evangelization

January 15, 2021

For Sunday, January 17, 2021
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Come and See

1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
John 1:35-42

“What are you looking for?” Jesus asked, which he follows with an invitation to “come and see,” in response to the disciples’ question about where he is staying. Of course, Jesus knew what they were seeking; is it not what we all seek — peace, hope, salvation? Jesus calls them, and indeed us as well, to accept his invitation to find those things, and so much more, in him.

Regardless of where Jesus resides physically, we know from his teaching later in John’s Gospel, what he longs to show us is where he abides. In John 15:4-16, Jesus shares the blessing of abiding with him; there, we can bear much fruit in our faith, receive what we, and most importantly, know the Father’s glory.

Jesus’ invitations present an opportunity for us to contemplate what we are looking for and to take stock of our current situation. Do you know what it is you seek in this world? Are you open to truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Can you leave behind your expectations, trusting the goodness of Jesus’ invitation, and follow God’s perfect will for your life?

Without waiting for the early disciples to respond, knowing their hearts and that the Kingdom of Heaven holds everything they seek, he invites them to come and see. Some of Jesus’ disciples came and stayed with him because they had heard him preach. Moved by the promise, hope, mercy, and life he offered, they directly accepted the invitation from him. However, like Peter, others came to follow Jesus after someone else extended an invitation to “come and see” themselves.

Peter’s brother Andrew’s willingness to evangelize brought Peter to become a disciple of the Lord. Andrew’s love for Peter moved him to share the truth and joy he had found. How blessed to have someone care enough to step out in faith and share the life found only in Jesus — no matter how uncomfortable they may feel or how their testimony may be received.

Those who believe inspire others to believe. John’s Gospel also introduces us to the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well. Her encounter with Christ spurs a conversion so dramatic, she cannot keep it to herself. Transformed by his love, mercy, and hope of a life where she no longer has to thirst for acceptance and redemption, she leaves her past behind and becomes an unlikely evangelist. Moved by her transformation from accepting Jesus’ invitation to come and see — she goes out immediately to share the Good News — causing a ripple effect of discipleship.

The lives of the people she encounters and invites, are never the same once they accept the invitation to follow and abide in the truth and love offered by Jesus. One of the most powerful moments in John’s Gospel (4:41-42) occurs when we learn many more have come to believe. And those she has testified to come back saying, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One truly is the Savior of the world.”

The power and beauty of evangelization manifests in the conversion of hearts when an invitation leads to a personal encounter with Christ and the choice to remain and abide with him. We may recognize our journey within these many roads to discipleship; which of these paths is yours? Will we pay forward what we have received? Do we have the courage and strength to follow Jesus’ example and invite others to come and see? When we, like Andrew and the woman at the well, tell others about finding the Messiah, we become part of the hope of discipleship present in John’s Gospel. We become conduits for others to encounter the truth and grace found only in Jesus Christ.

Allison Gingras