What are you looking for, is the question today’s Gospel puts before us. It is a vocation question that means, “What do you and God want to do with the life you have been given.” The answer to that question speaks of our relationship with God and how that relationship shapes all that we do--- our life decisions, our choice of careers, and the use of our talents as we become aware of the needs of our times. Ultimately, our decisions contribute to the shaping presence of God within us allowing us to change the face of the world. When we know what we are looking for, our world view changes dramatically.
The young man came to the city’s shopping mall not to purchase but to ponder. Looking down the street he saw clearly, maybe for the first time, the parade of people that past his way. He later wrote about this encounter: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. …I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, where neither sin, desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all of the time.” [Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, by Thomas Merton.]
If only we could all see as Thomas Merton saw that day in Louisville! In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites two of John the Baptist’s disciples to “Come and you will see.” I wonder what it was that Jesus said to them that made such an impression. That day spent with Jesus profoundly changed their lives, as they were willing to answer his call with eager and hopeful faith---a faith that called them to discipleship.
That day Andrew found what he was looking for. How about us? What are we looking for? That question has profound importance for us. God’s call is an attraction---an attraction that often leaves us wordless. Blessed John Henry Newman, the 19th century’s most important English speaking Catholic theologian, viewed his vocational call in these words: “God has created me to do some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which he has not committed to another. I have my mission…I am a link in a chain, a bond, a connection between persons. I shall do God’s work! I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth. …Therefore I will trust God. God does nothing in vain. God knows what God is about.”
Do we hear God’s voice speaking in our lives? Thomas Merton saw and heard, as did John Henry Newman and many others. Spiritual writer Alice Camille suggests that if we don’t hear God’s call, “maybe we need to put ourselves in a more advantageous position. Do we make time for stillness in our lives, rest, retreat, reflection, and meditation? Do we sit before the mystery of our own lives—our relationships, our work, our story, and allow God to speak to us by name through what is most meaningful and personal to us? If we don’t come and see, we can’t say we haven’t been called.”
Today, we are asked the same question: What are you looking for? How we answer that question will change us as profoundly as it has changed so many others. Jesus is calling us to himself and bids us, “Come and you will see,” and in that process he creates a bond of love that transforms us. As we begin a new year, do you know what are you looking for? ----Deacon Wilson Shierk