Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday in the 1st Week of Ordinary Time (II)
I Still Haven’t Found…

Readings: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1; Psalm 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7; Mark 2:13-17

If homilies or reflections are permitted to have theme songs, then the one I’d choose for today is probably U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. The choice seems obvious, especially when we consider Saul’s experience in the first half of the first reading. We’re told that he sets out to find his father Kish’s lost asses, but despite scouring the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalishah, and the land of Benjamin, (yes, please sing it with me) they still didn’t find what they were looking for.

But the fruitless search is only half the story. The other half is really about finding. Saul sets out in search of asses, and ends up finding a kingdom. The handsome herdsman stumbles upon his destiny and becomes a kingly hero. For in him Samuel and the people of Israel discover the ruler they’d been looking for. What at first sight appears to be a fruitless search thus bears fruit in a surprising way.

Something similar is waiting to happen in the gospel, at least for the Pharisees who were watching Jesus in order to find something to criticize. Jesus goes out along the sea looking for disciples, but ends up eating with tax collectors and sinners. Another failed search? Not quite. At least not for Jesus. For he did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Instead of Jesus, it is the Pharisees who haven’t found what they’d been looking for. They are disappointed in Jesus. They are hoping for a Messiah, but Jesus doesn’t seem to fit the bill. To really find that for which they are searching, something in them must change. But what?

We get a hint of an answer from the story of Saul. But being only an excerpt, the first reading doesn’t quite give us the whole picture. We need to refer to the Bible. There we witness two interior shifts. The first takes place in the heart of Kish, Saul’s father, and it is expressed in these words addressed to his son: The asses which you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the asses and is anxious about you (1 Samuel 10:2 (RSV)). Understandably, when his son fails to return, Kish comes to see that he values his son over his asses. What we have here is a shift in desire, or rather a realization of a deeper desire. The second interior shift is similar and even more crucial to the story. It takes place in Saul himself. It is expressed in the following words, which Samuel uses to help Saul to shift his desires from the asses to the kingship of Israel: As for your asses that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house? (9:20). And this shift in Saul is perhaps even better expressed in 10:9, where we are told that God gave him another heart.

Isn’t this the kind of shift that needs to take place also in the Pharisees? In order to find what they are looking for, truly looking for, they need first to examine and reassess their desires, and to consider carefully who Jesus is and what he is offering them. They need to be willing to allow their hearts to be changed.

And what about us? What shifts do we need to undergo in order to find what we are looking for?

1 comment:

  1. Fr Chris, you have raised the bar of religious blogging several notches high! Praise be to God the Ultimate Blogger! First, your blog site had soothing music, then delightful visuals and graphics. And now ... who would have imagined U2's short video on YouTube!

    As far as I'm concerned, I've found my daily Scripture reflection site! :)

    My take home message from Fr Chris' reflections today is to be completely open to possibilities and opportunities even as we search, and not be closed to situations and events through which God may be gently leading us. Dare we make that dis-comforting change in our lives?