[5th Sunday of Lent, Year B, March 22, 2015 / Jer 31:31-34 / P s 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15 / Heb 5:7-9 / John 12:20-33]
SOME Greeks come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and announce to the disciples “We want to see Jesus.” Perhaps the disciples are surprised as the Greeks were Gentiles, non-believers. How great when we are surprised in our journey of faith. How great when the search of others inspires us more. Searching is important for Christians and Lent is a privileged time for it. Forty days of searching, scouting and scouring.
Moses gave forty days to a group of men to go ahead to the Promised Land and scout around, to check it out and bring back the first fruits. He told them to be courageous. We too have forty days to search, to explore, and to seek the first fruits of the resurrection. All great explorers were courageous, they had a dream and were motivated. What is your dream this Lent? What or who is motivating you?
We too want to see Jesus but we also need to search for him. Why though? We are Christians. Haven’t we already found him? But Jesus is not static! He says in the gospel “If a man serves me he must follow me.” Jesus says follow me because he is moving! If he was static how could he say “follow me?” Jesus is on the move. There is a film called “Catch Me If You Can.” But Jesus wants us to catch him, to catch a taste of his great love.
Jesus knows that his love is the best thing for us. Our hearts can only be fulfilled by his love. He is convinced of this, that his love is the best for all men. So even during his Passion he knows that only his love can fulfil the human heart. Like a boy I saw once in medical school elections for the new president. After a long and boring afternoon listening to campaign speeches he was the last candidate to be interviewed. When he was asked why he should be voted as president he took the microphone and started to sing a line from a Tina Turner song “Simply the best! Better than all the rest.”
The whole medical school voted for him and he won. Jesus too wants to win our hearts. His love is simply the best, better than all the rest. Our hearts are made for this love. As St Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
The search for God involves our whole being. St Augustine describes how we wasted so much time searching in the wrong places — “Too late did I love You, O Fairness, so ancient, and yet so new! Too late did I love You! For behold, You were within, and I without, and there did I seek You; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty You made. You were with me, but I was not with You.”
But when he did encounter God it was a total encounter, an experience involving the five senses. “You called, and cried aloud, and forced open my deafness. You gleamed and shone, and chased away my blindness. You exhaled odors, and I drew in my breath and do pant after You. I tasted, and do hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.”(Augustine’s Confessions, Book X, Ch. XXVII).
Referring to this, the renowned Jesuit theologian Gerald O’Collins comments that the experience was an involvement of the human senses, of the intellect, the feelings, the will, the memory, of the entire being of St. Augustine. It is a total experience and that is why we need to keep on searching! It is interesting to examine what I am searching for and what moves me. What makes me sad also can help reveal our hidden motivations. And not to become discouraged or scandalized by ourselves when we find our motives less than perfect! But to keep striving and searching – “Rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face.”(Psalm 105:3-4).
And ultimately our search as Christians is that others can come to know Jesus too. Our prayer is not only to ask for God’s blessings but to ask that our lives can be a blessing for others too. Not only to ask to see Jesus but that we can help others to see him. As St Thérèse of Lisieux noted, “A soul in love with Christ draws many others.” May our lives, and our search for Christ, help others to know and encounter him too.