2nd Sunday Ordinary Time – “What do you Seek?”

What do you want?

“You want… WHAT!?!?!?”  Another way to put Jesus’ words in Sunday’s gospel.  For decades, I found it very difficult to distinguish between 1) what the Church told me to want (being good, etc.), 2) what my family wanted me to be (being good, etc.), 3) what I thought I wanted (cool toys, playing drums in a band, etc.), 4) what I actually wanted (to be famous, to be great), and 5) what I wanted when I began to be a tad more real (honest, free, and serene).

I’m still figuring all that out.

This question from Jesus in John’s gospel, however, calls us into and beyond our confusion about what we look for in life.  So, here’s a curveball or two.

“What do you seek?” is not a benign question. Fifteen of the thirty-four times zeteo occurs in John have to do with seeking to kill Jesus.  Witness this example:

John 7:1f            After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him.  Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

Four times it has to do with seeking the will of God vs. one’s own will or one’s own glory.

John 5:30              “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

And four times, seeking for Jesus and not finding him concerns those who seek their own glory and seek to kill Jesus.

John 7:34–36               You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”  The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?  What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

Here’s what I see at this point.

Jesus’ question to the two disciples following him asks them to go on a journey with him to discover what it means to abide in him, who abides in the heart of God.  Their journey with Jesus leads them, Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip, Nathaniel, and the other disciples through the valley of the shadow of death – wherein the difference between self-seeking and seeking to abide in Jesus gets revealed. 

And it ain’t pretty.  Right?  Good news is that you and I are invited to dwell in Jesus the Risen One as we are right now, self-seeking, aggressively defensive, and self-protecting. 

Well, good news and bad news.  Right?

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