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What Are You Looking For

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

My dear encountered couples:

What are you looking for?” This is what Jesus asked the two disciples of John the Baptist who started following him. Do you suppose Jesus ever wonders what it is you are looking for? You have chosen to be one of his followers. Do you know why? What are you after? Why are you a Catholic? What are you here at Mass for?

I suppose there are more reasons than all of us together could think of as to why people join up with Christianity and identify themselves as followers of Christ. But what is important for you is to search into yourself and find out your own personal and real reasons — to see if you even have any good and sound reasons. I suspect that some people are Christian because they were brought up that way. They were baptized soon after birth before they knew what was happening; the practice of going to Mass every Sunday was instilled into them as a habit by their parents; certain teachings were learned; certain ways of thinking became ingrained.

But that is not enough It might be a lot better than nothing, but it is far from enough. Now that we are older and, hopefully, more mature, we are all to give serious thought to why we are Christians. What are we looking for? Maybe you think you don’t have any time to discover the answer to that question. Your time is already filled up and overcrowded with trying to make enough money to live on, with family obligations and what-all. Bills have to be paid, problems need taking care of. Every day flies by before you can get much done. And you do need some rest and fun time. But if you have been caught up in this kind of rat race, if you continue with this busyness all your life, what will you have when it is all over? Where will you be after you leave it all behind, after you die?

And so, back to the question Jesus asked the two disciples, “What are you looking for?” I think we might all agree that basically we are looking for happiness – for love, for warmth, for friendship and security. But whether we realize it or not, I think we want this happiness not just for 80 or 90 or even 100 years. We want it forever. As to what will give us happiness, we all might differ in our opinions. The two disciples, one of them was Andrew, Peter’s brother, thought Jesus would have the answer to that question. They wanted to talk to him. And so, they asked, “Rabbi, where do you stay?” “Come and see,” he answered. After they spent some time with Jesus, Andrew seems to have become convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the one who was supposed to be the answer to the happiness question. Andrew went and told his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah?

Yes, the Jewish people looked and prayed for the Messiah. They sought happiness like the rest of us, like everyone always is. And they believed that happiness would be brought to them by the Promised One, the Anointed of the Lord, by the Messiah. Were they right in thinking that? Or where they following another dream that would never come true? The Messiah did finally come. Some of them recognized and believed in him. But did he bring happiness? Probably not the kind they were looking for. Seems like he brought a lot of hardship and suffering - to himself, and to those who followed him.

The world is what it is and what the sins of the human race have made it - and still make it. Jesus the Messiah did not come to miraculously and instantly change it to one big veranda by a swimming pool and golf course. He came to make it a means by which we could grow and become solid in goodness. He came to urge us to do our best to make this a better world for people to live in, to urge us to do what we could to help other people with their problems. And he would stay with us, even in us, sharing his strength and capabilities so that we could accomplish some of this, to accomplish something worthwhile by our lives on earth. And the final results of our accomplishments would be our own growth to perfection as loving and caring people — somewhat similar in quality to our loving and caring God.

Jesus wants us to not only feel useful but to be useful. For happiness can never be ours unless we are useful. And to be useful takes effort. Effort requires pain and can bring sorrow -pain when we would rather rest, sorrow when our efforts seem unsuccessful. Real happiness can only be acquired through some kind of contributing ourselves to something that will benefit others. That is why God is always happy. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are always living and doing for one another. And after creation they have always been doing for us. That is why God is happy. That is why God is Happiness itself.

Jesus has brought us a chance at some of that happiness by trying to get us to live and do for others. Not only are we to look out after the good of others during our lives on earth, we will be living and doing for others in heaven. You yourself are probably always keeping the saints busy by your prayers to them. Someday you will join them, I hope, and you’ll be kept busy too.

Happiness is not “being served.” That might be enjoyable for a while. But only those among the rich and famous who do something for others and feel useful enjoy any real happiness. The selfish loafers and goof-offs only appear happy. Deep down I’ll bet they harbor feelings of uselessness.

The answer to Jesus’ question, “What are you looking for?” is happiness. If you really want to find happiness, then sincerely ask Jesus, “Where do you stay?” He will tell you, “Come and see.” Then go and see, and learn the answer. The method to find happiness may be different for each of us. But you can be sure of this: it involves hard work and dedication. I hope you still keep following Jesus the Messiah. But I hope you follow and learn from the real Jesus, the real Messiah. Only then will you obtain what you want.

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