Another Perspective on Last Sunday’s Gospel

The essays at the Daily Episcopalian are always worth a read; this one was re-posted at their page on Facebook

Daily Episcopalian: What Are You Looking For?

I’ve always admired the presence of mind that allowed two of Jesus’s earliest followers to answer this last probing question with another question. The story gets told in the first chapter of John’s gospel, which tends to be read in church this time of year. You would think that they might have answered him this way: I’m looking for answers. I’m looking for secret knowledge. I’m looking for ways to improve my life, to lose weight, to get a degree, to feel needed, or to feel loved, or to stop hating myself, or to feel vindicated, or to escape my life, or to make money, or to find someone to love, or be on the right side ant the right time when everything hits the fan and I’m left to pick through the pieces.But that’s not what happens in the story. When Jesus approached two potential inquirers to ask them what they were looking for, what they said was not “I am looking for X, or Y, or Z.” They instead answered his question with another question: “Where are you staying?” Now this is an incredibly foolish response. They know almost nothing about this man, and what they did know about him meant that to ask where he was staying was to ask for trouble. They had just heard John the Baptist call him the Lamb of God. Given what they knew about sacrificial lambs, they should have been running for cover. Because the Lamb of God will by definition be wounded, sacrificed, destroyed, and anyone who stays the course with the Lamb will be wounded, sacrificed, destroyed as well.

So much for the quaint safety of a rector’s Inquirers’ Class. To enter the place where Jesus dwells means to answer a summons not to self-improvement or self-actualization, but to a world of risk and pain and the fear of loss, and at the same time to claim that it’s there, in that world, that you will find a peace that passes all understanding. To seek Jesus where Jesus stays, where Jesus lives, is to come out of hiding—to take the risk of loving yourself, and loving your neighbor, even your neighbor who hates you. To come to Jesus where Jesus lives is to enter the public realm.

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