Years ago, I went fishing when it was extremely foggy. Visibility was limited to about 30 feet. If I stayed in the middle of the bayou, I was in good shape. I could see both sides of the bayou and navigate the boat down the middle. At one point the bayou opened into a small lake.
When I started into the lake, I couldn’t see the opening on the other side of the lake; I was disoriented and lost my direction. I had to stop and find my way again and get back on the path. Once I found the continuation of the bayou, I was again going in the right direction.
This is similar to many people’s experience of their spiritual life. They seem to lose sight of where they are going. One popular billboard says, “Does the road you are on lead to my place” (signed God). How often has routine or indifference, fear or anxiety left us far from our true “home,” from peace of mind and heart?
In today’s world so many “things” compete for our attention and our loyalty: our screen technology like cell phones, the media, commercialism, materialism. However, none of these bring us the fulfillment and peace we need or point us in the right direction.
In the first chapter of John’s gospel, Andrew is searching for something more. He hopes that John the Baptist might have what he is looking for. John points Andrew in the direction of Jesus. He takes the risk of following Jesus, leaving a path he knows, to enter a road that is unknown.
What is interesting in this encounter is that Jesus makes the first step. He asks Andrew, “What do you want?” How often, when we least expect it, Jesus takes the first step in our lives – the birth of a child, the beginning of love, the gentle touch of forgiveness, the opening of a rose. To experience that presence of God, though, we must be awake and alert to what’s happening.
The question Jesus asks of Andrew is our question as well. What am I looking for in life? Do I want security, a safe position with money to go with it? Am I looking for a career with power and prestige? Does popularity with my peers turn me on? The peace and happiness that my heart desires can only come through a search for God and the fulfillment that only God can only give.
Andrew asks Jesus, “Where do you live?” Jesus never really answers him but invites Andrew to come and see. Take a risk! Andrew follows Jesus. Do we realize that Jesus lives in the projects? Do I see Jesus in homeless and the immigrant? Do I recognize his presence in those different from me?
Another question we have to ask ourselves is, “Where do I live?” The gospel tells us that where our treasure is, there is our heart, our home. If our treasure is found in our pursuit of material things, social status, popularity, then our heart will never know its true home.
Is Jesus in the center of my life, my home? Once we invite him, we will never know whom he will bring with him to share our home. As St. Augustine says, “God gives where he finds open hands,” hands that are open, not empty, ready to give and receive, to bless and to build. When our hearts are open to God, the Lord will enrich our lives and the lives of others.
Andrew takes the risk and stays with Jesus. Jesus also wants to stays with us. Mother Teresa said that if we wish love to grow, we must find time to spend with the Lord. Time is such a special gift, but so often our busyness takes away from our time for God, neighbor and us.
Michelangelo was chippig away at a big shapeless piece of marble. Someone asked him what he was doing, and he answered that he was releasing the angel locked within. God wants to release “the angel” within us. Jesus is waiting for our response.