Looking for Christ

POST BY PGallagher

Everybody is looking for you[1].   In our different ways, we are all seeking Christ.  The search for beauty, goodness and truth takes people to Jesus.  He is the fulfilment of our best desires.  We who are his friends know that to find him is to have satisfied an insistent longing.   When he reveals himself to us, we are prompted to seek more understanding.  He always gives us his whole self.  However, there is work to be done in receiving and assimilating his gift of himself in its fullness. He provokes our interest, our questions and our attachment.   We want to know more about him.  We press him with our questions and uncertainties.  Sensing that he loves us, we are moved to love him back: for he is loving, to him our praise is due[2].   All of this is not to reduce all human searching for truth to a quest for the Lord.  We are not loftily correcting our brothers and sisters by assuring them that their projects, properly understood, centre on one to whom they are indifferent or, even, have explicitly rejected.  Jesus presents himself humbly to those who have concluded that their eyes will never again see joy[3].  If he seems to intrude, he submits without protest to being driven out.  Christ seeks admission to lives: he does not impose himself.  He offers an explanation, which those who reject it, or judge it otiose, are free to ignore.  That God, our origin and goal, is the end of all our inquiries expands all the other matters that exercise us into a hymn to the creator.  The One who made us reveals himself to us in Jesus. Everybody is looking for someone in whom, it turns out, God is speaking to us. In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there [4]. The fruit of the communication between the Father and the Son is shared with us.  In the Son, there is a meeting of, on the one had, the Father’s reaching towards us, and, on the other, our searching for him.   The Holy Spirit enlightens the continued convergence of revelation and faith.  This happens, all through history, in the community of disciples and in the individual lives of believers.

The Lord always seems to welcome our inquiries and questions.  We know him in mystery.  Within the mystery there is much knowledge and understanding.  Jesus the teacher has wisdom to share with us and guidance and direction to offer.  Everybody is looking for him because they have already glimpsed something of his significance.  We have an inkling of his love and authority, so we pursue him in the hope of arriving at a more fully lived understanding.  The looking for him is a search for truth, but it also an inquiry about a person and it is an initiation into a whole way of life.  If we look for Jesus, we find him, we hear his teaching and we discover ourselves living the life of grace and love which he enables.  To look for the Son is to look for and to be on the way to finding the Father. We are being brought to God because that is why I came [5].  The Holy Spirit breathes wisdom and holiness into our questions and in the answers at which we arrive. Everybody is looking for our source and destination.  If we find the Lord, we will have found the One from whom we have come and to whom we are returning.  He gives himself to us entirely and without holding anything back.  His love is abundant and all encompassing. Yet the divine self-giving is measured to our capacity. Our suspicion that we have a long way to go in our journey with Christ is not mistaken.  We receive him whole, for example, in the sacraments, but only as best we can.  Like the first disciples, enthusiastically getting things wrong, we misread the Lord sometimes.  The Spirit guides us but permits our clumsiness to wreak its disorder so that our discoveries can truly be our own.  We make progress but only in fits and starts. Our backsliding is, somehow, also integrated into the purposeful pilgrimage towards heaven in the company of Jesus Christ.

He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere.’ [6]  Jesus can seem to shrink back from those who are looking for him.  Yet he does not tease people.  There is no game being played in which people glimpse him, touch him even and then are inveigled into a pursuit in which he continually slips away from  them.  Our commander certainly marches ahead of us.  However is also a fellow-pilgrim who walks beside us.  Appropriating the fullness of the gift of himself, which he offers us, is the task of a lifetime, it is a responsibility which has been put into our hands [7].  He presented himself to us, whole and entire, when we were baptised.  There are other moments of full communion.  Jesus always awaits us.  He never runs away from us.  We do not repel him.  The whole town came crowding round the door [8].  Our problems do not intimidate him. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up [9].  Nevertheless, the mission of the Lord takes him far and wide. Let us go elsewhere to the neighbouring country towns [10].  Is this away from us?  Is the elsewhere different from where we have glimpsed him and begun to understand him.  He invites his disciples to go with him.  Does this leave others behind?  Is Christ, for some, only tantalizing or intriguing, but not really satisfying?   In some he provokes rejection.  Some of those who spurn the Lord have never really understood him.  Others hear him clearly enough, but only briefly.  They come looking for him the following day only to learn that he has departed on the next stage of his journey.  No doubt he intends to give himself completely to those new hearers of his teaching whom he will now encounter.  Is assimilating what we have been taught by Jesus inevitably a kind of catch-up? Life is but a breath [11] and we make poor use of the little time we have.  The rights which the Gospel gives [12] we forego, not in order to share our faith more effectively, but because we have forgotten their full significance. The Lord seems to elude us, but in our stumbling way we run in search of him, hoping to meet him at his next stopping-place.  To make Christ’s life our life is also a process of remembering what he has already shown us.  Yes, we eagerly pursue him.  Everybody is looking for you. We also recollect his goodness to us. Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted [13].  We have found him: he has found us; we have received much comfort.  He has never stopped giving himself to us.  Indeed, there has always been enough given for what we have had to do in the challenge of the moment.  Our generous God who reveals himself in Christ bestows on us all that we need.  He satisfies the thirsty soul, and the hungry he fills with good things [14].

Homily by Father Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              Mark 1.37

[2]              Psalm (147) 146.1

[3]              Job 7.7

[4]              Mark 1.35

[5]              Mark 1.38

[6]              Mark 1.38

[7]              1 Corinthians 9.16

[8]              Mark 1.33

[9]              Mark 1.31

[10]            Mark 1.38

[11]            Job 7.7

[12]            1 Corinthians 9.19

[13]            Psalm (147) 146.3

[14]            Psalm (107) 106.9  The Roman Missal, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Communion Antiphon