JANUARY 4, 2008: 1 JOHN 3:7–10; John 1:35–42
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? RABBI, WHERE ARE YOU STAYING? COME AND YOU WILL SEE. The first question Jesus puts to his future apostles as he notices they are following him concerns their purpose: what do they really want? They answer rather indirectly for they as yet are not exactly sure just what it is they seek from him. Somehow they have a sense they must come to know him personally. Asking him where they can find him really means “we want to get to know you.” Recognizing their true intent, he unhesitatingly invites them to join him and to learn by experience what words alone cannot teach or satisfy.
Perhaps this clarifying and intensifying what we are really looking for is the chief point that today’s Gospel directs to each of us. Are we clear in actual fact, as to what we are seeking in the decisions we make as we go about our affairs in the course of the day? What are you really looking for? Do you want it with sufficient determination to leave behind any other goal save that of finding where the Lord stays so as to get to know better just who he is, what he is like, how we can best draw near to him.
Every new insight into our motivation is an opportunity to make a choice to strive more truly to liberate our affections from lesser goals, from self-gratification so as to strive with singleness of heart after this knowledge, based on experience, of the person of Jesus. The more earnestly we devote our self to this one task the more familiar we become with our weaknesses, but also with the gifts offered to us. Soon as the Lord is assured that these men who were to become his apostles really want to know him personally, he invites them to spend the day with him in his own place. We can find him in the place of the heart, within the inmost places of our spirit. If we strive seriously to do his will, to obey his teaching, and as well as we can follow where he leads, he will spend the day with us, allowing us to learn by experience that he is there for us.
Saint Bernard who exuded a striking self-confidence in his dealings with others in all kinds of situations, had interiorized his faith in the Lord’s love and made that the basis of his sense of security. He pointed out that if we are truly seeking union with God through loving adherence to his Son, it is because God has first sought us. Our looking for him is the fruit of having already in some measure welcomed him as he came to us, as he comes to us each day. There is no clearer, no more decided indication of this basic truth than the Eucharist in which the Lord invites us to come and see for our self where he abides, and to learn by personal experience that he knows us and seeks us, our very self, because he first loves us. Strong in faith in his love, then, may we prove faithful and ardent in our striving in every task, every encounter of our day to seek the Lord so as to know him and adhere to him by experience.a
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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