THE LIFE QUESTION

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time           

            “What are you looking for?” Wow! What a question! May I ask you to let that sink in you. Let it be the point of your reflection the whole week.

            We can say that we know what we are looking for – we know what we want in various areas. We want happy family and lasting relationships, good health and wellbeing, prosperity and success, security and safety, wealth and power or some control. But imagine that the Lord himself addressing you personally, in the level of the heart, and you know that it is “the question” – “What are you looking for?”

            What you are looking for tells the story of who you are. That is the truth: What you are looking for tells the story of who you are.

            Let me put it this way… If material and financial security is what you are looking for, you are driven to work hard, earn big money and hoard wealth. And that drive can turn you into miserly people, people who rob themselves of joy today because of their fear of tomorrow. If great success or accomplishment is what you are looking for, you channel and give your whole heart, mind and strength to be on top or to be “numero uno” in your field. And that can turn into an obsession or fixation that will deprive your family of meaningful relationships. Relationship can only grow and be nurtured with quality time you spend with them. If comfort, convenience, pleasure, indulgence, and gratification are what you are looking for you limit your desires and energies to what is physical. And you are missing the meaning that comes from self-denial, self-sacrifice, and self-giving. What you are looking for tells the story of who you are.

             All of us search for meaning and purpose in our lives. All of us long for a more abundant or fuller life. With this sense of searching and longing, we look for something or someone who can lead us to greater and better things… or who can bring us satisfaction and fulfillment… or who can give us the kind of happiness our hearts long for. We know very well: It is only God who can fulfill our greatest needs. It is only God who can satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.

            An important element of the Gospel is this truth: only in God do human beings find their perfection and fulfillment. God made us in such a way that only he, and no created things – although they are good too in their own way – can completely satisfy our deepest longing.

            Everybody searches for life somewhere. God has placed this search in each of our hearts. It is there to drive us to himself. It is there because we were made for him. But sadly, in our lifelong search for life, most of us ignore God. In our “God-amnesia,” we look for life where it cannot be found. And because we do, we always come up empty.

            I like what Paul David Tripp, in his book New Morning Mercies, says, “It is important to realize that you can search for life in only two places. Either you have found life to the fullest vertically or you are shopping for it horizontally.” St. Paul. in his Letter to the Romans, talks about this in this way: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshipped the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen.” What is that lie? It is the lie that was first told in the Garden of Eden: the false promise that life, heart-satisfying life, could be found somewhere outside of the Creator.

            There is no life, no abundant life, no life with meaning for now and eternity apart from Jesus Christ. Are you looking for peace? Listen to Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Is your heart heavy, burdened, broken? Listen to Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Are you mired down in the sticky mud of guilt and shame? To you, as to the woman caught in adultery, Jesus says: “Neither do I condemn you.” Are you stymied in growth, stuck in your complacency, finding life dull and boring? Listen to Jesus: “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly… take up your cross and follow me.”

            We are called to identify with John’s disciples and heed Jesus’ invitation: “Come, and you will see.” For it is in coming to Jesus, the Word made flesh, and abiding in him that we will find the fulfillment and happiness for which we were created.

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