Sunday, January 15, 2012

Come & See

Wherever Jesus is staying, I hope it's warm.'s sure cold out there!

   Second Sunday in Ordinary Time   B 

“What would you like?”
That’s a common enough question, isn’t it?
In fact, I find that I ask it fairly often of Fr. Stitt around the rectory—
usually in the kitchen.
“What would you like?”
His frequent answer: “World peace and Christian unity.”
And I was expecting something simple like,
“A cup of coffee,” or, “A little more meatloaf”!

What would you like?
Lots and lots of people are expressing
their big-picture, long-range desires at this time of year.
Turns out that Fr. Stitt isn’t the only one looking for Christian unity;
next Wednesday is the start
of the 104th annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Also quite dear to Fr. Stitt’s heart,
that’s hot on the heals of the National Vocations Awareness Week.
Which directly coincided this year with National Migration Week.
Of course, tomorrow we have a holiday
commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
challenging us all to work for an end to racism and bigotry.
Then a week from Monday, on the sad anniversary
of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade,
we’re asked to pray and do penance for an end to abortion.
And in the midst of all these important January observances,
a quick look through my email inbox
reveals messages drawing my attention  
to the dangers of “fracking” for natural gas,
to clergy sexual abuse, to bullying, to homelessness,
and to the tragedy human trafficking.
So very many causes worthy of our time and attention!

What would you like?
A dangerous question, indeed!
Beyond wanting just another glass of orange juice,
the list goes on and on and on…

In the gospel,
two disciples who heard John the Baptist
begin to follow Jesus.
So Jesus turns and asks them,
“What are you looking for?”
Or, to put it another way,
What do you want?  What would you like?
A deceptively simple question!
And they give a deceptively simple reply:
“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
They wouldn’t be following if they believed Jesus
to just be one more teacher like all the rest…
…so they’re probably not looking
for a private tour of his accommodations.
Show us—they’re asking—the place where you dwell,
show us where you can be found—
where we can get near to you,
where we can remain and abide with you.
“Come,” Jesus responds, “and you will see.”
Which could, I suppose, mean, “Come and check out my really cool pad!”
But it more likely means,
Come to where I dwell—come to dwell with me—
and I’ll open your eyes so that you can truly see—
see me and see everything else in my light.

Especially during the current, seemingly endless presidential campaign,
when the candidates’ religious convictions—along with so much else—
are carefully scrutinized and repeatedly picked apart,
we can begin to think that being a person of faith
is essentially about espousing a long list of important causes.
But notice that the invitation extended by Jesus
is not to come and sign a petition,
not to come and join a movement,
not to come and rally for change.
No, Jesus says, “Come and see. 
Come and stay awhile. 
Come and get close to me.”

The late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador—
who was himself, in fact, killed for his efforts
in defense of human rights—
once said in a sermon,

How I would like to engrave this great idea 
on each one’s heart: 
Christianity is not a collection 
of truths to be believed,
of laws to be obeyed, 
or prohibitions. 
That makes it very distasteful. 
Christianity is a person, 
one who loved us so much,
one who calls for our love. 
Christianity is Christ.  (November 6, 1977)

That our Catholic faith is centered on a person—
not an idea, not on a moral code, not even on a sacred book—
makes our approach to everything else so very different.
To be pro-life, or to be concerned about the environment,
or to build bridges between people of different cultures
is virtuous and noble in and of itself.
But it’s not enough for us to be good humanitarians;
our motivation must be truly Christian.
We must look at things through the eyes of faith—
and, seen through the eyes of faith,
the sweatshop worker, the unborn child,
the family without clean water, the immigrant without health care:
these are not problems to be solved, but people to be loved;
they’re not “issues” deserving of our attention,
but Jesus…in disguise.  (cf. Catholic Relief Services)

When we’re ready to right a wrong we’ve perceived
and climb atop our soapbox,
it’s wise of us to ask, Is this what God wants?
The answer is something best discovered sooner than later.  (cf. P. Cameron)
But we must not forget that, in Christ, God has also asked us,
What do you want?  What would you like? 
What are you looking for?
Certainly, we keep answering with our personal needs.
And certainly, we keep rattling off that long list of requests
on behalf of the whole human race.
But before we express our desire for world peace and Christian unity,
let’s take a cue from those very first disciples and remember to ask,
Where, Lord, are you staying?
Where can I get near to you?
Where can I find you in the midst of the world?
in the midst of my daily life?

Come—Jesus still says—
come to me in the Sacraments and the Scriptures;
come to me in the life of my Church;
come to me in its outreach to hurting, troubled people;
come and you will find me;
come and you will see.

1 comment:

muffin24 said...

This is awesome. I agree with fr Bryan more christian unity would be nice.Sorry i missed this one wont happen again, beautiful words of encouragement thanks for posting these.