Friday, January 04, 2008

4 January
Children Born of Searching

Readings: 1 John 3:7-10; Psalm 98:1, 7-8, 9; John 1:35-42

In this way, the children of God and the children of the Devil are made plain…

As we continue to celebrate the birth of the child who comes to save his people, the first reading invites us to consider the stark contrast that his coming among us uncovers. It tells us how to distinguish between the children of God and the children of the Devil. We are familiar with the words used to describe the criteria involved: No one who is begotten by God commits sin… No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother… Sin, righteousness, love – these are words we have heard many times in the past. Yet, isn’t it true that apparent familiarity can often also hide great ignorance? Isn’t this the experience of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day?

Which is why the gospel today is so useful. Here we find a story that depicts the process by which people become children of God. It is helpful first to notice that the characters in the story are all engrossed in different expressions of a single action. What were the two disciples of John the Baptist doing when they followed Jesus? They were searching for something or someone. And so engrossed were they in this search that they were willing even to leave behind their first master. They were willing to forsake the familiar for the novel. And they were able to do this because they believed that while the first was the promise, the second was its fulfillment.

And they are aided in this first search by a second one. Jesus leads them to ransack their own hearts for the answer to his question: what are you looking for? And in the process, they come to see that, in truth, their search has led them to the One who has traveled from all eternity in search of them. We have found the Messiah… Isn’t this a useful picture of the righteousness that escapes the snare of sin? Rather than being obsessed simply with avoiding wrongdoing, the children of God are instead engrossed in seeking the One who is the very embodiment of righteousness, the One who emptied himself even unto death, the Lamb of God himself.

There is yet a third search in this process, one that makes concrete the commandment of love. What does Andrew do after finding Jesus? He seeks out his brother Peter and brings him to the Lord...

As we continue to deepen our appreciation of the mystery of Christmas, the great feast by which we celebrate our becoming and remaining children of God, perhaps we can consider how we being called to search.

What are you looking for?

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