John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"
"What are you looking for?" Jesus asks as he notices two men trailing behind him. They hardly know what to say to that question for they are simply following the command of John, "Behold...!"
We hear the same command every time we attend Mass. As the Communion rite begins the presiding priest calls for the attention of everyone present, "Behold the Lamb of God...!" Immediately they get up and come to the altar, following in the footsteps of John's bedazzled disciples.
Beholding, it would seem, is the same as following.
"Keep your eyes fixed on him... as you would on a lamp in a dark place." the scriptures tell us.
A lot of people call themselves Christians but do they see and follow the Lord? Do they notice which way he is going in his care for the sick, the homeless, the despised and so forth? Anybody can call himself a Christian but does it make them in the least uncomfortable as they face the hard choices that entails?
We remember how the refugees fleeing Egypt followed a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day. Given our human penchant for squabbling some probably argued they know a better way and asked, "Why should they go that way?" They were free to go anyway they liked but to belong to the Lord they had to follow in his way with their eyes open wide.
Bartimaeus demanded of the Lord, "I want to see!" Jesus gave him sight. Saint Mark tells us, he "followed him on the way." What's the point of seeing Jesus if you don't follow him?
Our rapt attention to the Lord, our beholding him day and night, is simply our response to him, for he watches us continually, attentively and with loving concern. We find enormous comfort in the reassurances of Psalm 121:
I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From whence shall come my help? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; or your guardian to sleep. Behold, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night. The LORD will guard you from all evil; he will guard your soul. The LORD will guard your coming and going both now and forever.