21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Let me start off by asking you to repeat the words of Simon Peter in today’s gospel reading and make them as our prayer: Lord Jesus, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.
“To whom shall we go?” Sad to say, oftentimes we go to someone else or to something else to find life – “the good life” that we desire. To whom do we go? We go to someone else whom we consider capable of making us happy and secure; capable of satisfying our wants and desires; capable of helping us to realize our dreams and ambitions, to succeed in our careers, to prosper in our business, to accomplish and achieve a lot of things. To what do we go? We go to something else whom we consider capable of giving us a sense of purpose and meaning; capable of letting us have a sense of self-worth or self-esteem… capable of helping us to get ahead of others, to gain the esteem and admiration of others, to win honor and glory for ourselves.
Everybody searches for life somewhere. God has placed this quest in our hearts. It is there to drive us to him. It is there because we were made for him. But sadly, in our lifelong quest for life, oftentimes we ignore God. In our God-amnesia – or loss of memory of God – 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. This is the biggest and cruelest lie ever told. Sad to say, people still believe that lie.
If you believe it – making yourself “go to someone or something else” – it will not only leave you empty and disappointed, but it will set your life in the course of destruction. (Paul David Tripp)
The physical, created world is full of engaging and entertaining delights. But it is important to understand that nothing in the physical world can give us the life that our hearts long for. The delights of the physical world were carefully crafted to point to the One who alone is able to give our hearts eternal delight, eternal happiness, eternal peace.
God alone is able to bring the deepest of joy and contentment to our hearts. He alone is able to give us a reason for getting up in the morning and a purpose for living. He alone can infuse our hearts with hope, no matter what is going on around us. So in amazing grace, the Lord calls us to surrender all your hopes and dreams to him.
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.
There is no life, no abundant life, no life with meaning for now and eternity apart from Jesus Christ. All eternity is summed up in Jesus. 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.”
Let us end the way we began this reflection – that is, by repeating the words of Simon Peter: Lord Jesus, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. Amen.