“What are you looking for?” Jesus asked. It is a question we might ponder. The future disciples did not answer directly, probably because they did not know exactly. Yet they were searching for something more than the culture of the day offered and decided to check this Jesus out. My guess is that if we are honest with ourselves, we too are searching for something more than the culture of our day.
They responded with a question of their own: “Rabbi, where are you staying.” He invited them “come, and you will see”. We do not know the details of what happened next but it led Andrew to want to share this experience with his brother Simon who became Peter.
Inspired Sacred Scripture is not offered as an historic travelogue but as an invitation to travel on a journey of conversion toward an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ who is the one who can answer our yearning for something more.
Jesus invited those two disciples and invites us to come with him to discover the answer to what we in our hearts and souls are looking for. In a way he was saying that what he offers us cannot be put into words, we must experience it, grow in it, journey with Him through it. What Jesus offers cannot be put into little slogans like God is love. His love represents more than a smiley face. It is a love that asks us to change and to become better than we are. It requires openness to going with him into the unknown and remaining with him in the midst of doubt, wonder and worry.
Our human tendency bolstered by the gadgets that enthrall us is to want immediate answers. The story is told of a young Chinese man who went to a master craftsman who made beautiful art objects out of jade. He told the master that he had come to sit at his feet to learn. The master took a piece of jade, put it in the young man’s hand and then sat there talking with him about all sorts of things unrelated to the craft. The next day the same thing happened, a piece of jade was put in his hand with no instruction. This went on for many days. The boy became anxious because he was not learning anything. Then one day the boy came, the master placed an object in his hand. The boy cried out “hey, this is a stone.” He had learned his first lesson from the master – the feel of jade. The moral is that if we keep holding on to something valuable and beautiful, like oneness with Jesus Christ, we will get the feel of it and will know what is not it, what is counterfeit which include the lures of the world and the work of the evil one. If we remain steadfast with Christ through prayer, the sacraments, spiritual reading, when we encounter the stones of life we will know the difference between phony happiness and contentment in Christ.
Some of us including me at times become frustrated with all that Christ’s Church asks of us as we prepare for the sacraments like marriage, confession or prepare to enter the Church, even expecting us to come to Mass every week. Our participation in church can seem unexciting or not consequential especially in contrast to the dazzle of the world, but when something happens, temptations come, tragedies occur, or sickness hits by staying the course we will see and be able to tell that the bromides of the secular culture, the quick fixes of the marketers, and shallow advice of nonbelievers do not work. They are stones instead of jade and can even be dangerous to our body and our soul. When we have the feel of the faith gained through discipline, perseverance and prayer, we will be able to know the counterfeit and be able to call on Christ to help us handle what comes our way with courage and hope.
When we have that sustaining feel of faith we will want to share it with others as did Andrew with his brother Simon. Each of us is called by our baptism to evangelize, to share the faith, always with love and respect but always without compromise, by witnessing through what we say and do.
An elderly man was registering for hospital admission. The nurse asked him the question – ‘what is your religious preference.’ He thought a moment and responded, “I’m glad you asked me that. I’ve always wanted to be Catholic but nobody ever asked me before.” Are there people in your lives who are waiting for an invitation from you to come and see Christ in his church or to come home? Are there men and women who you think would make good priests or religious who may only need encouragement by those who care about them? Are there people who are burdened with problems or stresses with whom you can pray and invite them to share their burden with Christ, who makes all burdens light?
Pope Francis has called us all to become missionary disciples. A 12 year old girl was given an assignment to write about a missionary she knew and admired. She wrote: “a few people crossed my mind such as Mother Teresa. Then I stopped and thought, I can’t write about one of those great people because I don’t really know them. It’s true I heard their names and read about them, but I don’t know what they are like. The person I think is a missionary and a good one is my mother. My mom’s mission is to be a housewife and mother to me and my family. My mom has never been selfish and put herself first before her family. I have never been starved or been without endless love. Just like the famous missionaries my mother has needed a lot of courage. She could easily have gone off to bingo and left me, but she didn’t. She made the supreme sacrifice of thinking about me before herself. I am very lucky to have a missionary mother.” Are we missionaries in that simple sacrificial sense at home, at work, in our relationships where respect for life and the common good guide us?
Jesus asked “what are you looking for?’ On this cold day when all seems heavy, he invites us to come and see more clearly that He is what we are looking for. He is all we need.