by Gjergji Evangjeli
All I was thinking about as I rushed into St. Ignatius on January 18 is that I had to be out and in my room by 6:40 PM. God, however, often chooses to teach us important lessons when we seem least open to Him. In other words, I was as attentive during the Mass as a six year-old kid who has just been allowed to play with his mother’s phone. Then the Gospel reading came around, and I felt like someone dropped a bucket of ice water on my head.
The events portrayed in John 1:35-42, especially the first interaction between the first two Apostles and Our Lord is astounding to say the least. Jesus’ question, “What are you looking for?” is
not simply a run-of-the-mill question; it is a sharp arrow drawn directly from the divine quiver, an arrow that leaps off the page when it is uttered and flies with surprising speed into the
heart of anyone who dares to speak it. Though it seems the easiest of questions, it is usually one of the hardest to answer. Sure, if a magic genie appeared in front of us at any given moment we
could easily answer it, but most of those answers are trivial and likely to be also found in letters to Santa Claus, but what is it that we really want?
St. Augustine tackled this question at some point and came up with an ingenious answer. He asked God to let him know who he was and who God was. The Apostles give a slightly different answer. “Rabbi, where are you staying?” they ask. It is my contention—though this is pure speculation—that they ask the right question, but for the wrong reason. St. John continues to tell us that Jesus shows them where He is staying and they remain with Him for the night. Perhaps they wanted to listen to what He had to say following St. John the Baptist’s strange declaration that this man in front of them was “the Lamb of God.” Or perhaps they were looking for an address, so they could come back to see Him at a more convenient time.
Regardless of what their intention was, the fact that they spent the night tells us something about how Jesus steered that question. For that night, and for just about the next three years, they and others lived together with Him. In that light, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” may be seen as a move-in request. That move-in request, however, does not come without its costs. The Apostles came to learn this, since all of them were either executed or died in a Roman prison. Countless of the saints and martyrs throughout the ages knew of the great peril of saying to God, “take me where You will.”
Through the Apostles, God asks each and every one of us that same question, “What are you looking for?” and all of our responses can be narrowed down to two possible kinds of answers. Either something to the effect of, “A million dollars!” or “Lord, allow me to walk with You.” May we ever be so brave as to always seek to honestly come before Christ and ask Him for the second option.