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What Are You Looking For?

2A Epiphany

15 Jan 2023

John 1: 29-42

“What are you looking for?”

“Come and you will see.”

And they spent the rest of the day with him, for the day was almost over.

We choose to follow someone who has something we want for ourselves. It could be money or material gain, yet I suspect mostly we follow people or an organization because of feelings, of passion and of desire.

I have a deep desire to see more of the world therefore I follow travelers who think like me. I enjoy reading and I follow the works of authors I like. I don’t give my life to them!! That I reserve for my faith journey.

John the Baptizer asked what people were looking for. I always picture him standing there wearing little more than his birthday suit and asking questions in a rude and sarcastic manner. When I picture Jesus asking the question, I see someone who can see right to the heart of the person he is addressing, someone you feel knows your every thought.

If Jesus were standing here at this very moment and asking you the very same question, how would you respond? What are you looking for?

I will answer for myself, for I can never answer for another. On one level, I am looking for reassurance. I want to know that my life matters, that it counts for something. And if we look into the eyes of Jesus, we see God looking at us intimately, with compassion and love. My life matters. God’s love is directed to me, as if I were the only person in the entire world. I think a baby may feel this when parents look at her. The gaze of pure love, love that will give up everything, including life itself, for that child. That is how I feel when I meditate, when I visualize, Jesus looking at me. You cannot help but to feel that complete love, like you would feel for a helpless baby who will not live without your care and protection. Jesus offers that to me, for without that love I am helpless.

That is not the only thing that Jesus offers. He shows me what the world will be like when we follow the Way. What I see in his eyes and hear in his words and experience in his actions is a world where we can live in peace and harmony, where there are no outsiders. It is a world of plenty.

In a way it is like riding a bike in RAGBRAI. The ride IS the reason; not the destination who gets there first or who peddles the fastest or even who eats the most pie that week. It is all about the journey itself, made with others. It is about supporting one another on that journey.

When I look into his eyes, I understand that the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep is about the need for everyone to be loved and taken care of. Unless we are all there, the world is not whole.

I know that in the world there is, among all its wonder and beauty, danger. Hurricanes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes are all part of living on this planet. People will die from disease or trauma. There is, however, a worse evil: that of the human heart. There were, are, and will be, people who are evil and incapable of looking into the eyes of Jesus. And I do not mean incapable because they have not or will not hear the Christian story, but because they are evil like to be with them is to be near deadly poison. But most evil is not perpetrated by that sort of evil person. The message of Jesus is that the last shall be first, that it is our sacred job as humans to take care of the least. When we devise our systems of governance and community, we ignore Jesus. We create hierarchy, we create class. We create a narrative of scarcity make decisions about how resources should be distributed. When I look into the eyes of Jesus, I see such sadness. I feel he is asking me when am I going to understand? When am I going to act?

Simon, Andrew, Nathaniel, and Philip understood something from the very beginning. So did Mary of Magdala, so did others. They all made mistakes, for that is the essence of being human, but they all stayed with the Jesus and the Way.

Isaiah says God wants his servant to be a light to the nations, for being a light to just Israel is too small for God. Is it not that we, in some small way, are called to be a light, to be carriers of the light?

Epiphany is the season of revealing, of light, of understanding. I want to be a bearer of light, the light of love and compassion. Sometimes my light is dim; sometimes it seems to be entirely extinguished; sometimes I lose it. But I will find it and I will do what I can to make it shine for others.

And you? Are you ready to, once again, come and see and pick up a piece of the light to carry into the world?

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