May 10, 2020
John 1:38: When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?”
Many, many years ago I remember sitting in a lawn chair on the back porch of my parents’ house looking out at the foothills west of Golden, Colorado. The alpenglow was particularly soothing that evening as I drank some iced tea and made light conversation with Jennifer. I think we were on our second or third date.
Jennifer looked at me and asked, “What are you looking for?”
I did not know how to answer her question.
As we stay home and shelter, as we wear masks in public, as we practice social distancing, what are we looking for? As the death toll rises, what are we looking for? As we hear competing views on opening the economy or keeping non-essential businesses shut, what are we looking for?
What are we looking for in life? It is a good question that merits our attention.
Father Ron Rolheiser points out that the Gospel of John does not have an infancy narrative or anything on the early life of Jesus. Instead, we meet Jesus as an adult and the first words out of his mouth are a question, “What are you looking for?”
Isn’t that fascinating? Ask yourself this question. Ponder it. Sit with it.
The answer can guide or give focus to our entire life. We go to school, we try out different jobs, we go out with different people, we marry, we divorce, we explore different places, we try out different spiritual practices, we question, we answer and beneath all our activities there is a “certain search forever going on.”
Rolheiser says, “A lot of things are happening on the surface, but underneath, there remains always the nagging, restless question: What are you looking for?”
We look for meaning and purpose. We look for friendship, for community. We look for security. We look for a place where we are accepted. We look for the alpenglow in our everyday lives.
At the end of John’s gospel, on the morning of the resurrection, Rolheiser states that Jesus essentially asks Mary the same question that he opens the gospel narrative with: “What are you looking for?”
“Then he answers the question. With deep affection he pronounces her name, Mary. In this act He offers unconditional love and acceptance.” In the end this is what we are all looking for and most need. Knowing we are loved and accepted “gives us substance, identity, and justification beyond our own efforts to make ourselves lovable, worthwhile, and immortal.”
We need to hear God “affectionately, one to one, pronounces our names: Kent! Brenda! Jasmine! Carla! Nothing will heal us more of restlessness, bitterness, and insecurity than to hear the Creator say, “I love you!”
In the middle of this pandemic, what are we looking for?
May we pray, be still, and hear that voice that affirms our well-being. May we be the hands and feet of Grace conveying gentleness, joy, and peace in the world. May we call each other by name with warmth and tenderness. May we love as Christ loves us. May we find what we are looking for. Amen.
Blessings and peace,
This week, may we:
- Listen for the voice of assurance, be still for 20 minutes or more a day. (try 10 minutes if 20 is too long)
- Offer love, kindness, and patience to the people we encounter.
- Forgive ourselves and others.