Dom Maksymilian R. Nawara, OSB

Abbot President of the Congregation
of the Annunciation


We are formed by Being With


The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by. ‘There is the Lamb of God!’ he said. The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus. Jesus turned, saw them following him and asked, ‘What are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Where do you live, Rabbi?’ (This word means ‘Teacher.’) ‘Come and see’, he answered. (It was then about four o’clock in the afternoon.) so they went with Him and saw where He lived and spent the rest of the day with Him.
John 1.35-39

LectioNawaraJohn the Baptist is the messenger who came to tell people about the light (Jn 1.6), who made the straight path for the Lord to travel (Jn 1.23), and to make known the Lamb of God (Jn 1.29). He knew Jesus and expected Him, but even he needed time with Jesus in order to be formed. In the Gospel of John, the Baptist in conversation with the Pharisees reveals his identity: ‘I am not He’ (Jn 1.20-27). Very soon after that, the Gospel says: ‘the next day’, John met Jesus and recognized Him, giving the testimony to his disciples: He is the Son of God (Jn 1.34). Despite this, when, after listening to the news about Jesus for a long time, he was imprisoned, he sent disciples to Him with the question: Are you the one we are waiting for? (Mt 11. 3). We see clearly, he needed time with Jesus to be formed.

We live in a moment in history where technological progress allows us to do many things more efficiently and quickly. We have access to various things much faster and easier. Also, access to knowledge is at our fingertips, and education through distance learning is available in the monastic cloister. At the same time, a day is still 24 hours, and a week is 7 days. It would seem that we have more time. And yet… we live in a time in which we still lack time. Even in monasteries one can hear complaints that we don't have enough time for everything we want to do.

The Gospel stops us and draws our attention to the basis of every human formation.

It takes time for an encounter to become an acquaintance.

It takes time for an acquaintance to be a testimony.

Without this time, the testimony has no value because it lacks experience.


Go with Jesus

Two disciples of John heard him speaking about the Lamb of God and went with Jesus. The new stage begins for them: disciples of the Voice becoming disciples of the Word.

Following Jesus, following the same path as the Son, is a synthesis of the Christian experience. Christianity is not a collection of beautiful  stories or moral imperatives; it is the reality of the person of Jesus who is followed because you love Him: ‘Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness’ (Jn 8.12).

Jesus turns to those who follow Him, and the first time (in the Gospel of John) He opens his mouth and speaks the first words. His first words are the question: ‘What are you looking for?’ This question is crucial for many reasons. What am I looking for in my life, in my work, in relationships? What am I looking for in the Church, in my monastic community? All these questions and many more are important to ask on any level of monastic formation. Jesus’ question is connected with time as well, because it is very true: I’m wasting my time on what I’m looking for. What am I looking for that I waste my time on?

The answer of the disciples isn’t ‘Yes’. They do not say: we are looking for this and that, they do not even say: we are looking for the Messiah. They ask another question: ‘Where do you live, Rabbi?’. This question expresses their deep desire to be with Jesus. And Jesus answers: ‘Come and see’.

This is where the path of the disciple of the Word begins. Move from ideas, theories, declarations, manifestos and slogans to the sharing of life. And to share my life is to share my time with Him. There is no other way to truly know Jesus than by sharing time with Him: in prayer and Lectio Divina. But this truth is closely related to the honest response to the question: What am I looking for? What am I looking for that I waste my time on?



The Gospel says: ‘So, they went with Him and saw where He lived, and spent the rest of the day with Him’. Again, we come back to these key assertions:

It takes time for an encounter to become an acquaintance.

It takes time for an acquaintance to be a testimony.

The fruit of the time with Jesus is testimony: ‘We have found the Messiah’, we have found the light of life.

The monastic formation is mostly about sharing. Sharing daily life, time, work, everything. How can we learn to live together if we are not sharing time with our brothers and sisters on a daily basis? How can we know Jesus if not by sharing our time with Him? An acquaintance will become the testimony with time. On the monastic path we are formed by being with Him, as well as with our brothers and sisters.

Come and see! I want to tell you everything. I will guide you day by day.