To be Catholic means entering into a personal relationship with Christ. It is a matter…
Opening the Word: Fulfilled in Christ
For no apparent reason, they follow him. Sure, the disciples of John the Baptist hear their erstwhile master proclaim Jesus as the Lamb of God. But without further inquiry, they follow.
Almost immediately, they are rewarded for what seems like a haphazard decision. Jesus turns to the two disciples and asks them a question: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38).
This question of Jesus is addressed not just to those two disciples but to us. To be a human being is to look for something. To look for that something beyond all things that provides us fulfillment.
We can look for something in the market, making money our fulfillment.
We can look for something in nationalism, making security our fulfillment.
But the disciples had their eyes set exclusively on Our Lord. They do not answer his question directly, but they ask him where he is staying.
|January 17 – Second Sunday of Ordinary Time|
1 Sm 3:3-10, 19
Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Cor 6:13-15, 17-20
Through this question, they tell Jesus what they are looking for. They are looking to dwell with him. They do not yet know the fullness of what Jesus has to offer. They do not know that he is the Word made flesh. They do not know that he will suffer and die and rise again and ascend into heaven. They do not know that he will be there whenever two or three gather in his name (cf. Mt 18:20).
But they know that their fulfillment, what they are looking for, is Jesus.
They want to dwell with Jesus.
Today, with all the talk in the Church related to disaffiliation, maybe we have forgotten that what we most offer is not a political platform, a social program or even secure doctrines that enable us to feel safe in a secular world, but the very person of Jesus Christ.
The Church must be a space where people may dwell with Jesus.
Dioceses and parishes alike continue to hire consultants who tell us how to better advertise ourselves or organize parish staff for effective evangelization.
But those two disciples did not follow a man who had developed a great mission statement or use influencers.
They followed Jesus, who is the answer to the deepest desires of the heart.
They followed the Messiah, the Christ, who had come to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand.
They followed him, because they hoped that the Lamb of God might be for them the shepherd of their salvation.
Yes, today the Church is poorer. COVID-19 has emptied the coffers. We are not the Church of 1955 with flourishing educational institutions and political power galore.
But we remain the Church of Jesus Christ. What we offer to men and women must be an encounter with Jesus.
In this new year, in 2021, let us as the Church take up a resolution. We must resolve ourselves not just to better strategic planning or a deepened commitment to our mission statement. Rather, we must resolve to offer men and women the one thing — no, the one person — who fulfills the desire of every human heart.
If we are to do this, we must spend our time dwelling with him. After all, it is not just those two disciples who find their fulfillment in the Lord. It is every man and woman, starting with the reader of this column.
Let us start our day in prayer, marking our lips with the Sign of the Cross.
Let us speak his name throughout the day, savoring Jesus the Christ.
Let us delight in the only name, in the only person, who can fulfill the human heart.
Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.