Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last weekend as we celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord, I was especially struck by the longing the wise men had to find God’s presence, light, and life in the world. Through all their learning and study, the wise men were attuned to the signs in nature like the star, as well as to the signs contained in the written word. Aware that there were prophecies that said a king would be born to the Jews who would be the savior of the world, they searched for the fulfillment of these words. The search was not merely an intellectual activity. Rather, it was reflected in their hearts, which desired to find Jesus, though they did not yet know Him by that name. The human heart searches for God, and with the celebration of the Epiphany, we were reminded to continue that search ourselves.
The liturgical time between the Christmas season and the start of Lent was traditionally named in relation to the Epiphany. Today, for example, would be the start of the second week after the Epiphany. This naming convention pointed believers back to the celebration of Christ’s manifestation to the nations and reminded them that foundational to the Christian life is our search for relationship with the living God. While the name of the season has changed, the Gospel the Church gives us today retains the message. As Jesus passes by, St. John the Baptist sends his disciples to follow the Lord. When they meet Him, Jesus immediately asks “What are you looking for?” At the very heart of the encounter with the Lord is the question of what we seek. The deep longing of the human heart is relationship with God. The response to that longing is an invitation: “Come and see.”
When Jesus invites the two disciples of John to come with him, they find themselves at a critical point. Their hearts were inspired by the preaching and baptismal ministry of John, and when he pointed to Jesus as “Lamb of God,” the sense of profound longing for a relationship with God continued to grow. Now they hear the voice of God-incarnate inviting them to take the next step. It is one thing for them (and us) to recognize the longing of the heart, and quite another thing to actually follow through in that search. Taking the step of going with Jesus and spending time with Him is the start of a very new aspect of their life. The search for relationship with God is not over, but they are beginning to experience the fulfillment of their sincere, human desire.
Just as those first disciples of the Lord had to recognize the internal desire welling up in their hearts and had to take Jesus at His word and begin to follow Him, so we who count ourselves Catholic must today, and every day, see that desire for God present in our hearts and be reminded that we are continually being invited into that relationship. In a special way, this “Come and see” invitation comes to us through the Eucharist. In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus shows us where He stays – our Lord remains here with us in the Tabernacle, in the Monstrance, in the gift of Holy Communion. Every Mass, then, is an invitation to come and see. Every time we receive the Eucharist, Jesus speaks to us “Come and see.” Every time we genuflect as we pass in front of the Tabernacle, every time we kneel at the altar rail for a moment of prayer before or after Mass, every time we visit the Adoration Chapel, Jesus is inviting us to come and see. The invitation is constant. Will we go with the first disciples and accept the invitation Jesus extends?