Jesus retreats ... but he allows himself to be found. Are we looking for him?
This Sunday we hear the dreary lament of Job who asks, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings?”
So many of us are trying just to get through the pandemic. Many have struggled with employment, health scares, family crises and more. We’ve thought of the COVID-19 restrictions as measures to embrace for protection and obstacles to conquer.
In our frustrations and fatigue, we are like the crowds searching for the Lord, as Simon attests to Jesus: “Everyone is looking for you.” It has been a test; a challenge. And it is not passing quickly.
The grave risk through it all is to overlook that God has not been absent. It would be a mistake to believe that the spiritual life has been on pause, simply waiting for the situation to change. The truth is that God has been with us, despite every obstacle, every inconvenience, every sorrow, every death.
To see God is one of the greatest desires expressed in the Scriptures. Having lost the sinless state of Eden when our first parents walked with God, when they knew him with ease, it is the longing and struggle of the fallen world to see God.
Only with the gift of his Son – the greatest act of love the world has ever seen – have human beings again been able to perceive God, to know him with confidence, to find him. Jesus was sought not merely for his ability to heal, but for his teaching. The power of the Gospel – confirmed by his miraculous deeds – communicated divine life. Christ makes God heard, seen, and present.
If we are searching for Christ, we disciples, like Simon, will find him. Where should we look? Well, we must imitate the Lord and fearlessly head to the deserted place. There in silence, with hearts and minds opened to him, the Word will speak to us. In silence, love will come.
Readying to hear
We can foster the kind of interior silence that allows us to hear Christ by reading and meditating upon the Scriptures. We should commit passages to memory and recite them to ourselves throughout the day. We should read spiritual works and sit in silent prayer.
There, by fostering this disposition of interior silence, creating within ourselves a receptivity, we are building something in our hearts. We must always remember, however, that our disposition of silence as disciples is not absence, rather it is attentiveness. Like students ready to hear the word of a teacher, we prepare our hearts for the Word of the God of life, light, and love.
our disposition of silence as disciples is not absence, rather it is attentiveness
This week the world will be talking about love. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, our pharmacies and groceries are inundated with the most saccharine and mawkish displays of affection. This day is not something to merely survive; it is, for Christians, a moment to reflect on the true nature of love. For there is but one grand, ultimate, worthy object of our love. And, as the Scriptures say, “we love, because of him who first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
This love that first moved the stillness of nothing to being, that drew the earth forth from the void, that made human beings to know love; this love is ever present, waiting to be found.
Why Jesus is astonishing
Christ is ready to speak to us. His love will speak to us of consolation, encouragement, challenge, correction and hope. In the silence of our hearts, this love will lead us to encounter the very depths of our own hearts. This love will pull back the idols, distractions, lies, and sins, and there we will meet God. We will see him.
It matters not whether the pandemic rages or concludes. Whether we recover quickly or slowly. We have not been left by God. He is here, waiting to be heard. May our eyes be open ever more to love’s designs and presence!