In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks two disciples who are following him, “What are you looking for?”
There are several layers to this question. Perhaps buried in their come-back question, “Master, where are you staying?” were hidden agendas or not-so-altruistic reasons why the disciples had left John the Baptist and now wanted to follow Jesus.
- What can you do for us?
- What’s up that’s exciting and new that you can show us?”
- Can you fix my financial situation, my son, my daughter, my marriage?
- Can you fix me?
Jesus know this, He gets it. Jesus knows their thoughts. He knows their intentions. Jesus could have responded in a way that would have immediately “called them out” at a much deeper level. As Fr. John Foley, S.J. mentions in his blog, “Called By Name,” Jesus could have asked them:
- Is that what you REALLY want to ask me. Is that what you REALLY want to know – where my motel is?
- Is that what you REALLY want?
- Do you think that is what you REALLY need? What is your hunger?
- What are you seeking? Me?
- Something else?
- Do you really know? Are you sure?”
- Something else?
What are they looking for? They weren’t sure what.
So when they asked the question: “Where are you staying?” Jesus takes what is given to him, looks “with love” at the two disciples following him (much like he looked at the “rich young man” in Mark’s Gospel), and counters with: “Well, come and see for yourselves.”
So they went – and He took them to a place – and they stayed with him. It was an ordinary place. It was a place that was so insignificant that it doesn’t even merit a mention in the Bible. But in that ordinary place, they found what they had been looking for.
St. Louis Professor of Philosophy Eleonore Stump writes in “Who’s Calling,”
Wouldn’t you suppose if God called you, that He would bring you to some place special? Some place spectacular like a mountain top, the sea shore at sunset? Don’t you think that God would give you some kind of a hint that something very special had just happened? Who would believe that God would call you and you wouldn’t recognize that you were having a wild, spooky, religious experience?
Fr. Foley again: Here is “depth charge” #1: Don’t discount the ordinary. God’s voice can be confused with the ordinary. You sometimes can’t tell the difference until you are willing to listen.
Here is “depth charge” #3: When you ask God a question, He might counter with questions of His own to get deeper into our hearts and give us an understanding of who we are and why we are here.
Look at the story of Samuel in today’s First Reading. Must it always be God who calls our name in order for us to become that which God has called us to be? For us to grow up, to find our vocation and purpose in life, to do something good that has a positive effect… could not God utilize the voice of a psychologist or a spouse or a dear friend (who knows and believes in us) to help us discern these questions? Yes, of course. Each of these people knows us and can beckon us to be the person God has created us to be.
But only God can KNOW our deepest desires, those unknown by others and, sometimes, even ourselves. And, more importantly, only God can SATISFY the deepest desires within us.
And this encounter – this place to which Christ brings us – where we can hear our name – is often such an ordinary place, a boring event, an ordinary person and conversation, that we miss it.
Some questions for us as we begin “Ordinary Time” within the liturgical season:
- How is the Lord speaking to you during this “ordinary time?”
- How can you distinguish Christ’s voice from the other ordinary voices in your life?
- Who is your “Eli” in your life who can help you hear the voice of the Lord when you might be missing it?
Audio version of the homily is here: