“What are you looking for?” In yesterday’s Gospel St. John the Baptist acknowledges Christ with the words: “Behold the Lamb of God.” St. John and St. Andrew catch up with Jesus, and begin following along with Him. Our Lord, then poses the question: “What are you looking for?”
He addresses the same query to each of us. We are all seekers. Just like the Magi, we seek Our God, our Creator, our Savior, our Alpha and Omega. There is a longing in each and every human heart. Our inmost being is directed to discover He Who IS. We are commanded: “Seek Me that you may live (Amos 5:4)!”
God implants the desire to know, love, and serve Him deep within the very fiber of our being, and our eternity depends upon the degree to which we respond to His call. Yet the world is full of distractions that can mute our perception of God’s invitation. Like children, we run after our own pursuits – often ignoring the security of responding to God’s request to seek Him with a sincere heart. We are like young chicks, each seeking its own interests.
Every year our yard is full of baby turkeys. Early in spring the kids and I are entertained by the daily courtship ritual that unfolds in our back yard. A handful of Tom’s poof-out their feathers and strut around, while a parade of nonchalant lady-birds trot to and fro frequenting feeders in our garden. By early Summer we delight in watching these same hens waddle through the yard with their newly hatched broods. As they grow and develop over the summer we notice their individual personalities. For the most part, they are fearless, strutting past the kids on the swing, the adults on the patio, and the two Labrador Retrievers in the yard, to get to their bird feeders. Its is a constant parade of fowl.
One day last summer, as this daily ritual was unfolding, about thirty turkeys trotted through the yard. There were a few hens with many fledglings in tow. One confident little guy wandered off from the brood, finding the snacks left under the picnic table to be superior to the corn in the feeder. Something must have spooked the other birds because they quickly scattered to our nearby woods. This exodus escaped the notice of the little cowboy under the table. When he looked up and realized he had been left behind, he began to squawk a high-pitched panicky cry, which was returned from the woods by an equally alarmed vocalization. The kids and I watched as the fledgling scurried around the perimeter of the yard, crying and calling for the security that now eluded him. We have often seen coyotes in the yard about this time of day, thus his panic was well justified. The series of shrill calls from chick to hen and back again continued for nearly a half an hour. Finally success: Mom and baby were reunited.
As we recalled this event during tonight’s dinner discussion, I realized just how much of an impact it made on the children and I. As much as we wanted to intervene, we were helpless to aid the little guy. There were a few quick prayers to St. Francis, but otherwise we felt powerless.
This event seems to parallel our relationship with God. Our eternal safety depends upon the ability to freely answer His call. We are free to wander off and seek satisfaction for the longings we experience. We have the liberty, the free will to fill the emptiness of our hearts with flimsy substitutes – lesser goods in place of the Supreme Good. However, those freedoms can lead us either toward or away from the object of our desire. Sometimes the pursuit of apparent goods can interfere with the realization of our ultimate Good. Even when we wander off, God continues to call – to pursue us. He seeks us, even when we ignore our need to seek Him. Like that baby turkey, the danger of separating ourselves by losing sight of our decisive Good, is real.
We are called to seek Him with our whole heart. In so doing, all the other joys we desire will be given as gifts. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides (Matthew 5:33).” Often our ability to seek and find Him depends upon the methods we choose.
Tonight after dinner, I plopped The Catholic Bible Concordance into the lap of my fourth-grader. This heavy, red, (2,183 page) book is a bit daunting. Gemma’s eyes looked like Oreo-cookies when I assigned her the task of counting how many times the word “seek” appears in the Bible. She flipped through the reference text and stared at me blankly with that you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-look. Relief came almost immediately as her older sister chimed in from the family room, “Well, why don’t you just Google it?” For the record, the word seek appears 303 times in Sacred Scripture. We are perpetually instructed to seek and find our God.
From the merchant who buys the pearl of great value, to the homemaker looking for a lost coin (Luke 15:8), we are directed to seek that which is of supreme value. Whether we are kings, wise men, or servants, or shepherds, we are each called to “Devote your hearts and souls to seeking the Lord your God (1 Chronicles 11:19).” Perhaps, we may just stumble upon that which we seek. However, bumbling and stumbling along solo, are uncertain methods, and their success is unlikely. Rather, like the Magi, we are called to actively seek His Holy Face. We can expect to struggle as we travel through the dark nights following only the star of His Light. Yet, like the Magi, His Radiance is sufficient to guide us to the object of deepest longing: Our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we approach the Epiphany, together seeking the joy of His Presence, may His Light envelope and guide us. Therefore, together let us prepare to answer wholeheartedly His query: “What are you looking for?”
Ad Jesum per Mariam