2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the holy Gospel this morning, the Church presents us with the first words which Jesus spoke in his public ministry, according to St John. They are not a teaching but a question. Jesus saw people following him “and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’” He asked it of the two disciples, and he asks it of us today.
What the question suggests is that there is a need to have a clear consciousness of what is our goal in life. So many people never get around to asking that question of themselves, much less answering it. They go from one thing to another without reflecting on the course of their lives. And yet, as Socrates had already said centuries before Christ, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
Christ is not asking for information. He created the human heart, and took on a human heart of his own, and he knows perfectly well what every human being wants. But he wants us to discover what we are really seeking in life, so that we can have an idea where to go to look for it.
What we want is what every human being looks for: rest for our hearts, a home for our spirits. We want perfect truth for our understanding, perfect beauty for our affections, and perfect goodness for our conscience. Human beings are made to want these three things, somehow gathered into one, even if many do not realize that, and so they go hunting in all sorts of impossible places for what can be only be found in one.
To the question, “What are you looking for?”, the deepest of all answers, and the only real answer, is, “My soul is thirsting for God, the living God”. Those who realize that, know where to look for what they need. There is no rest for the heart or mind or conscience anywhere, or in any thing, less than God.
So when Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?”, the only answer is “You, Lord”, and the two disciples said as much. They answered, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”, as if to say, “It is you whom we want; you are the One we are looking for”. The disciples are conscious of what they want, and they turn to Christ to supply their needs. And Christ immediately replies, “Come, and you will see”. He recognized in the two disciples the same qualities that God his Father found in the boy Samuel.
“Samuel was not familiar with the Lord”, says the first reading, “because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet”. And he was too young to be looking for the meaning of life. But he was not too young to hear the call of the Lord, and he responded by saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”. He heard the voice, and acknowledged that he was a servant, and that was enough for the Lord to work with.
Like Samuel, each of us is also lying in a sanctuary, our body, which St Paul calls the temple of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Our culture would have us speak of “my body” as if it were not from God, and that we can do what we want with it. That way lies death: the death of the human spirit, and the expulsion of the Holy Spirit.
If we want to have a life worth living, and be ready to respond to the Lord when he calls, we must practice the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, times of retreat, spiritual reading, and sobriety in all things. These are all ways in which, with God’s help, we guard the heart, protecting it from all that is not of God.
At this Eucharist, Christ will enter each temple of the Holy spirit here present. Let us ask him to nourish this inner sanctuary, so that no idol, no secondary desire, can take the place of our one deepest desire, for God himself. Let us stay with Jesus the rest of our days, our hearts burning within us throughout a lifetime lost in charity, burning like living flames for him who first loved us, and called us each by name.
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