Who are you looking for?
In today’s gospel, John is unselfishly fulfilling his vocation. He points out Jesus to his disciples steering people toward the Lord. And John’s disciples leave him and follow after Jesus. It sounds a little as if they were uncertain of their reception. Shy to approach Jesus, after all, He did not know them. They didn’t really know Him, except what they had heard.
Note how they became disciples, it was Jesus who took the initiative. He met them half way, He made things easier for them, He opened the door. It was not you who chose Me, no I chose you. Note also the question Jesus asks, what are you looking for? This is not for Jesus a trite, stereotypical question you ask if you hear footsteps behind you.
What do you want? This is a religious question, what are you looking for? What are you looking for, only you actually know, why are you following after Jesus? Why do you come here week after week, why do you turn to Him? Some of us turn to Him simply because we turned to Him as children. It’s all in the family. Some turn to Him because He is a problem solver, He gives answers.
Some turn to Him because with Him around I do not have to look under the bed. Makes me feel safe. Some of us turn because we need miracles. He is the God of the impossible: sickness, need a job, pass the exam. And for others, God is just a big bear aspirin. Why should you turn to Jesus, why should you follow after Him? Simply because you have been called? Because Jesus said to you, “Follow Me.”
Yes, you may find your security in Him. You know that He can work wonders. But that does not fully explain why you believe in Him. Abide in Him, bring others to Him, why are you ready to suffer with Him? The only good reason is that Jesus has called you. He called you at Baptism, that is where we first turned to Him. Perhaps with a protesting yell, but you were baptized into Him. The priest said, “I claim you for Christ.”
Conversion to Jesus Christ is never a one shot affair. It is a ceaseless process like growing. You have to be constantly turning to Christ. Looking for something, for what? Above all, a person. Christ has to be real to you. As real as your closest friend. Following Jesus is not easy. He preached a twin message everyone could understand. Love God above all else, love your sisters and brothers as much as you love yourself.
He made enemies of the powerful. Because He put compassion above tradition, love above law, people above things and institutions. But following Christ does not mean copying Him slavishly. Dotting His every I and crossing His every T. What does it mean? At bottom, it means that whoever you are, whatever your work…the root principle that motivates you is the same principal that powered Jesus. I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.
In point of fact, we profess it together, pray it publicly when we say the “Our Father.” When we say, “Thy will be done.” In other words, whatever You want Lord. That can be a troublesome prayer, because so often I just do not know what God’s will for me is. Or I may know what God wants to do. But my whole being rebels against it. Do not feel guilty. Christ Himself experienced it in Gethsemane. His prayer reads so poetically on the printed page.
“Father, if it is Your will, let this cup pass from Me…not My will, but Yours be done.” Take that prayer out of the book and into the garden. And you see why His sweat became like great drops of blood. He knew His Father’s will, He knew what was going to happen, and He cries out in fear. “God, do not let Me die.” Also to live the Christian life, you have to be like John the Baptist. You point to Christ, not with a wave of the hand, or with pious talk. Not simply through a Sunday obligation. You point to Christ by what you do and who you are. Whatever you do, you try to do it in a Christ-like fashion.
Not simply through a Sunday obligation. You point to Christ by what you do and who you are. Whatever you do, you try to do it in a Christ-like fashion. And wherever you are, you never cease searching for what our Lord would have you do. Today, tomorrow, for life. If it is the same journey you have in mind then rejoice and be glad. If it is not, fall on your knees and sweat it out with Christ in the garden.
To be a Christian you have to be a bit like those three wise men we read about last week. They also were asked the very same question that Jesus asked in our gospel today. They were asked, “What are you looking for?” They were looking for a person. And when they found Him, silence. Words were inadequate to convey what they felt. Only gestures would suffice. Scripture does not tell us what was said.
Only that on entering the stable, seeing their Maker in a food trough they fell down and adored Him. Opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts. What are you looking for? The question stems not from me, but from Jesus. From your answer, you should learn a good deal about yourself. How convinced and passionate a disciple are you? For the question in another form, is the question Jesus put to His disciple, Peter after several years of discipleship, “Do you love Me? Do you love Me enough to fall down and adore Me and open your treasures, and offer Me your gifts. If you do, come and see.”