Pastoral Message – January 14, 2024
With the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany behind us, it’s time for us to dip into “Ordinary Time” until Lent begins on February 14. (I know—that’s also Valentine’s Day! I’ve been thinking how fun it would be to administer ashes in the form of a heart on Ash Wednesday this year.) In any case, this Sunday (January 14) we have a great Gospel passage in which Jesus gains some new followers. He sees a couple of them following him and asks them, “What are you looking for?” In response they ask him, “Where are you staying?”
Now, it seems to me that the two new disciples must have been looking for more than where Jesus was staying. Jesus did invite them to come and see where he was staying, and they did; but I really wonder what was on their minds besides that. This brings me to wonder about the possible answers you and I might give if Jesus posed the same question to us.
As we follow the Lord, what are we looking for? Automatic answers to our prayers? Hopefully not; it doesn’t work that way. Are we looking for freedom from suffering? Jesus himself tells us to take up our cross and follow him. Are we looking for complete justice and happiness in this life? We certainly strive for justice and happiness, but this life and this world have limitations. Ultimately we follow Jesus because we seek heaven: we want to be saints. Along with this comes the practice of many beautiful virtues; a life rich in meaning; and communion with our Creator, who loves us with infinite love.
I think it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, from time to time, what we are looking for. This question is especially important to ask before we embark on a big undertaking or attempt some difficult task. It’s also a good question to ask ourselves before we speak, for whatever reason. The question “What am I looking for?” helps us clarify our motivations and expectations. When our motivations are good and our expectations are
realistic, we can walk readily in the footsteps of the Lord.