Sunday, 18 January 2009

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Shaftesbury

Jn 1:35-42
I’ve been alive for over 38 years now and among the things that have been pretty constant in my life is that I’m never quite satisfied. I’ve had a lot of things go well in my life, a lot of things, but nonetheless, I’m never quite satisfied. My chair is never quite comfortable enough, the TV program is never quiet funny enough, or if it is funny enough then its not funny for long, or the house isn’t warm enough, or my drink isn’t chocolately enough.

All of this is pretty much the state of human existence. That even those of us who have many of the things we’ve spent our lives aiming for, even so, we’re still looking for something more.
On one level, this is a good thing: to stop striving is to just give up and die.
But on another level, it’s a sign that this material world we live in is not enough. St Augustine, over 1700 years ago, summed this up by referring to the restlessness of the human heart and saying, “Our hearts are restless O Lord until they rest in Thee”.
We are made for more than just sitting in comfortable chairs, watching TV, and drinking nice stuff. Rather, we are made with a spiritual soul so that we might freely love and love Him who is more loveable than anything we find on the material level.

In today’s gospel we heard Jesus ask the question, “What do you want?” or, “What are you seeking?” and it mirrors a question he asked at two other times: To the guards who came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Whom are you seeking?”(Jn 18:4); and, To Mary Magdalene after the resurrection, “Whom do you seek?”(Jn 20:15).
Each time the question referred to Him. And, if I want the answer to what I am seeking, even in what I do not realise, even when I am looking for it in odd places, then JESUS is the one whom I am seeking.
In all that leaves me unsatisfied, my lack of satisfaction is because I am still seeking Jesus.

Now I say this as a priest, as a priest who has sought Jesus many times, and found Jesus many times, and yet who is still NOT fully satisfied.
It is certainly true that Jesus has given me much satisfaction –more than I would trade for the passing pleasures of this world or the fleeting glamours of this life.
But still, I know I am not FULLY satisfied.
The answer to my lack of satisfaction is that I never FULLY turn to Him, I always turn aside when I seem satisfied ENOUGH. When I feel satisfied but to seek Him more would involve difficulty, the Cross, and so forth.

The disciples asked Jesus, “Where do you live?”(Jn 1:38). And we know they weren’t just asking for an address. It was a more existential question.
He lives is a life of virtue –He is peaceful, patience, loving.
He lives in full perfection –He has none of my limits.
He lives in perfect joy –He is satisfaction personified, and invites me to share it.

In John’s Gospel, time and again, he records the teaching of Jesus that TRUE seeing is about faith. Seeing the RIGHT things, the DEEPER things. So when Jesus said to those enquiring disciples, “Come and see”(Jn 1:39), then this is an invitation to look AGAIN at the RIGHt things. This is why I am dissatisfied. He is the one I am made for, and I’m restless until I FULLY rest in Him, even if that involves more than the half-hearted commitment I give Him.
At 38 I am still unsatisfied because when I “Come and see” Jesus I am still wandering to other things.
If, after another 38 years, I finally rest in the Lord, it will be because I have decided WHERE I need to rest. “Our hearts are restless O Lord until they rest in Thee”.

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