Editor’s note: This is the seventh post in a series commenting on the first words of Christ as presented in the Gospels.
What do you seek? … Come and see. (Jn 1:38-39)
At the very core of our being, there is a longing, an aching desire for happiness. We strive to fill this day after day with little pleasures and big dreams, but in the process, we too often get bogged down with the details. How can I think about pursuing eternal happiness when I have a paper due, when the dog needs to be fed, when the children are fighting, when the boss is on my back, when the car is in the shop? The alarm rings at 6 and by the time we collapse that night, we have barely stopped to breathe, or else we have languished in the fog of indecision, distracted from distraction by distraction.
In this fog, the last of the seven first words of Christ pierces to the heart of our desires. “What do you seek?” The fog begins to clear as the question strikes home. What have we been seeking? What have we pursued in our lives? All our lives, haven’t we been searching for something, for someone, for happiness only found in unending love? We do not fear love, but the loss of love, since we know that only love can satisfy.
In asking this one question “What do you seek?” the questioner is himself the Answer. He breaks in, burning away the haze and shocking us with the overwhelming Question.
No longer do we ask the vague and common place “what do I want?” or “what do I dream for?” Gone is the simplicity of “What will I do today?” and “Where will I wander?” Here we are faced with a question which brings the flash-in-a-pan moment of our life to its crisis.
Will I seek God, or seek something else, something that will ultimately pass away? Will I choose Him or reject Him? When faced with the Question, there is no middle ground. Either we accept Him and live a transformed life, or we reject Him and sink into smallness. This is the question we are faced with every day and “nothing can again be casual or small.”
Once we realize that it is He for whom our hearts have longed, there is first the joy of the finding, but then there is the temptation to despair. Faced with His greatness, who am I that He should care for me? And if He were to condescend to care, how could I who have marred through vain and vicious pursuit the eyes and hands and feet and tongue He has given me ever be accepted and loved by Him for whom I long?
And yet, the Lord smiles at the halting answer of the disciples and to every one of us who asks, “Teacher, where do you dwell? Take me there that I may bide with You and You with me.”
As C.S. Lewis so beautifully puts it “He loves not because we are lovely, but because He Himself is Love,” the God who created us and sustains us in being.
“Come and see!” Jesus replies. He invites us to enter into His life with the assurance that He will welcome us in. Well does He know that when we see the place where He abides, we will know that one day within those courts is better than thousands elsewhere. We will prefer the threshold of His house to every other place we have lived. Once he burns through our blindness, we will long to dwell in His house forever. There to live, there to love and be loved, and there to find our peace.
Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Sun After the Snowstorm (used with permission)