Saturday, January 13, 2018
What are you looking for?
Tim was driving down the street looking for a parking space anxious because he had an important meeting that he was soon to be late for. Looking up to Heaven he said, “Lord, take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of my life and even give up my Irish Whiskey.” Miraculously, a parking place appeared right before him. Tim looked again to Heaven and said, “Never mind, Lord, I found one.”
Jesus asks a poignant and direct question in our Gospel today, “What are you looking for?” Of all the things that Jesus says throughout the Gospels, this is the foundational question that every follower of Jesus has got to ask at some point in their journey with the Lord. What are you looking for? It’s a profound question and I think John’s Gospel wants us to hear it that way. John wants that question to hang in the air a bit to let it do its work on us.
There is an interesting, and even humorous, pattern in John’s Gospel. In John, Jesus often makes deep and profound statements, and those He speaks to just as often miss the point. For example, Jesus tells Nicodemus that to see the kingdom, “you must be born again, from above.” Nicodemus misses the point as he tries to figure out the logistics of being physically reborn, “How can a person once grown old be born again?” he asks. Or when Jesus says to the woman at the well that He can give her living water springing up to eternal life, she responds, “Where are you going to get that water? You don’t even have a bucket!”
Similarly in today’s passage, when Jesus asks the disciples, “What are you looking for?” he’s asking them the deep, profound question of faith. Their response, “Where are you staying?” It reminds me of the early days of St. Francis of Assisi’s conversion. In a spectacular and miraculous moment, Jesus spoke to Francis from the cross in the chapel of San Damiano. Jesus said, “Francis, rebuild my church which you can see has fallen into ruins.” St. Francis physically and literally rebuilt four churches before he realized that Jesus was calling him to lead a renewal of the universal church, not become the church’s new contractor.
It is easy to miss the incredible experience of the living God that is presented to us over and over. Just think of the Eucharist. This is the most incredible encounter possible on Earth. God miraculously transforms mere bread and wine into the real Body and Blood of His Son, and more incredibly invites us into the same transformation by our reception of the Blessed Sacrament. And yet, how often do we come to Mass with eyes that are not fully open to this miracle before us? We come from the busyness of our lives; we come consumed with our cares and concerns; we come with a sort of boredom because even this miracle can become ordinary. And yet, God will come down upon this altar once again today; and He wants to enter our lives once again today. What are you looking for?
Today, Jesus puts that same profound question before us, “What are you looking for?” Let us not be so dulled to the question that we miss the invitation that it represents. When Jesus asked the first disciples, “What are you looking for?” it was His way of seeing what they think is important, what matters? Because if they are going to follow Him, they will have to discover what is important to Him. Their response, simply because they don’t seem to grasp His deeper meaning, is to ask, “Where are you staying?” Although they don’t understand the question, it isn’t really a bad answer. It says that they are willing to learn. They are willing to spend time with Jesus. Jesus responds, “Come and see,” and they go stay with him. There they begin learn from Jesus what really matters. They learn what it means to be invited into His kingdom of love, compassion, joy, and forgiveness.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday on Monday, it is fitting that we reflect on what his life taught us about what matters. He showed us that what matters is the unity of humanity; what matters is peace, dignity, justice, and love. He said, “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
So Jesus places the question one more time before us: what are you looking for? If you are looking for a life of meaning; a life that really matters; a life that can change what ails our world; a life centered in love, and centered in Christ: then you can find it and in fact have found right here as God reveals Himself to us all. Let God transform you once again by His presence, and into His presence and then go from this place to live that truth out as a disciple of the Lord.
May the Lord give you peace.