The Great Existential Question

4 January 2005: Wednesday before the Epiphany
John 1, 35-42: Come and See

The brief conversation between Jesus and his two would-be disciples educates us in what to expect from the Gospel of John because the conversation moves on two levels. Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?” This is a natural question to ask if two people are following you. At a deeper level, however, it is one of the great existential questions of life: What are you searching? Anong hinahanap mo? Masaya ka ba? Many of us are searchers. We have many questions in our lives that seek answers. Where will I be happy? What is God’s plan for me? What will happen to me in the future? We find ourselves in a journey, constantly seeking for that which might fulfill our lives. Someone in her thirties asked me about her boyfriend, “Is he the one, Father?” There is a student who took Biology as a pre-med course in college, and then finds herself in a cooking class after graduation: “I am happy when I cook, and I am excited about putting up a restaurant.” Many find themselves in a crossroad, with options open for them. “I have three jobs waiting for my decision,” said a friend of mine, “One will make me financially secure, but I will not be happy there. Another is what I want to do because singing is my passion, but my economic future is not as bright. Another is what my parents want me to do: to continue the family business.” We have a prenovice who has everything: smart, handsome, a doctor who graduated here in UP, and has US scholarships waiting for his answer. But he said, “May kulang, Father.” What are you looking for?

Second, the disciples’ answer is naive: “Where are you staying?” And Jesus answers, “Come and see.” At first it may mean, “Come and see where I am staying” but in a deeper level, it also means an invitation to discipleship. To seriously ask the question is to embark on a dangerous spiritual journey. Because the answer does not lie in psychology, anthropology, philosophy, or whatever. The spiritual life is a journey about change. If you seek God, you will be changed. The change may be painful and humiliating, but nevertheless, it will make you whole and happy. As you pray, you will undoubtedly experience opportunities for growth. You may find at times that your security is being challenged, that your rootedness in God is being drawn in depths you have not experienced, or you will be asked to go beyond your comfort zone. In the end, when the Lord asks you to “come and see” you are asked to come and see Him. If you notice, there is not answer to the question, “What are you looking for?” The answer is an invitation, “Come and see.” We are asked to discover the answer. Because what we will discover is different from what others may see and believe. Just as we are unique, then the answer for our search is cut out only for us. And thus when we try to find ourselves, it is another way of finding God.

However, there is an assurance. The Book of Jeremiah (29, 12-14) says, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord.” And Matthew (7,7) says, “Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

St. Anselm of Canterbury has a prayer about seeking:

O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you...

You are my God and you are my Lord, and I have never seen you.

You have made me and remade me, and you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,

And still I do not know you...

I have not yet done that for which I was made...

Teach me to seek you... for I cannot seek you unless you teach me,

Or find you unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire, Let me desire you in my seeking.

Let me find you by loving you,

Let me love you when I find you. Amen.

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