Friday, April 10, 2009

Who are you looking for?

Who are you looking for?  (Good Friday Homily)

Three times this question comes at the beginning of today’s passion. Three times, Jesus asks ‘Who are you looking for?’

The question calls to mind the basis human quest for meaning, for purpose, for truth. The philosophers search for meaning. The teenager questions the truths which have been passed on to him. The sick and the bereaved often ask the question ‘why’ or ‘what if’? Scientists seek the origins of life and the beginning of the universe. Even the atheist - especially the atheist - searches for truth, and believes, with a fervour, that he has found it.

Human beings seek truth. The Catechism tells us that every person has a yearning for God - though everyone might not see it in this way. St Augustine put it even more poetically: “Our hearts are restless, till they find their rest in you”.

At the beginning of the baptism service, the priests asks the parents “What do you ask of God’s Church for your child?” Usually they answer simply, “baptism”, but they may answer “Hope”, “Love”, “Eternal Life”, “Salvation”.

The trouble is, all humans ask the question, but many come up with different answers.

Some of those answers, as Jesus said to the Rich Young Man, are not far from the Kingdom of God. In this liturgy, for example, we pray for the Jewish people who of all peoples are bound in a covenant with God and of all those who do not yet embrace Christ, are closest to his Kingdom. There are others we pray for too, who do not believe, yet who - as we will say ‘might find [Christ] by sincerely following all that is right’. One theologian described these good people outside our faith as ‘anonymous Christians’.

But there are those whose answers are far far away from the Kingdom.

‘Who are you looking for?” Jesus asks - and the answer which comes back “Jesus of Nazareth” sounds like the correct one, the true one. Here is all truth, all love. Here is the perfect man, like us in all things but sin. Here is the Son of God, the Word made flesh. But they come not to worship like the Wise Men of old, but rather, like Herod in the same tale - to destroy the Truth - because they fear it.

And in his actions, Jesus shows us what the Truth really is, what the Meaning of Life really is, what the Purpose of all things really is. Not a set of ideas - though they are important; Not a scientific explanation - though that may have its part; Not an easy simple answer, expressed in a few words - though words do matter.

No, what He shows us is that Truth is a Person, the giving of Life to gain Life, a Sacrifice, an Act of Love.

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