Sunday, 1/14/18 – What Are You Looking For?

It’s a cold night here in Indiana. We had a winter storm come through today, and so the ground is covered in a nice blanket of white snow. Looking out the window, it is dark and I just love how the snow just glistens and lights up the darkness of the night. It’s just an ordinary winter night here in the Midwestern United States.

As I was sitting in my chair, in my prayer corner in my home, reflecting upon the readings for today, I was doing some research as I often do. I looked down at the paper I was reading, a reflection also on today’s readings by a local priest. I looked at the date – Sunday, January 14, 2018

It is 2018. Where does the time go. And I am just 40 years old. But I look over at my son, 9 and half year’s old now. He helped shovel the driveway today. He’s getting so big. He’s sitting on the couch reading. Another ordinary night, in an otherwise ordinary year.

But the thing is, if we string together a few ordinary days, and a few ordinary seasons, and a few ordinary years, before you know it – you’re looking at life, and wondering – where did the time go?  You look at life, the things you’ve done, and certainly the things you haven’t done. You try to see where you’ve made a difference, but often the only thing you can see is the mistakes you’ve made, and the things you could have done better. The things you wished you have done better.

You think back about how God has called you in the past. Looking back, you can see it now, that God was calling you to do something, to make a difference. You couldn’t see it then. It was ordinary, a little whisper that you simply glossed over. But looking back, you see that it was God, providing an opportunity for you. And you passed it by, barely noticing it. You looked the other way.

Anyone have occurrences like this? Missed opportunities to do God’s will, times that, in looking back you knew that it was a nudge from God? Looking back at these times, it’s water all under the bridge. You can’t go back. But what is it that you can do today? Because I really think that true growth is when you can see God in the moment – and respond – just as Samuel did in the first reading, and just as Andrew, and then Simon turned Cephas translated to Peter did for Jesus when He called them.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”

What are we looking for?  Most times, we are focused on our own wants and needs. A new job. Healing of a disease. Money to help with financial problems. Maybe it’s for our house to sell. Perhaps it’s for peace in our country, or community. The list goes on and on. Big and small. All important to us. And that’s okay.

But what are we truly looking for? Do we stay silent enough, long enough to listen for Jesus to ask us that question? And if and when we do, do we stop and reflect and answer?

Do we ask ourselves What am I looking for?  Maybe we say, I’m just an ordinary person. I’m simply looking for ends to meet so I can pay the bills. I’m looking for healing for my friend. I’m looking for my kid to stop being bullied. I’m looking for a new job, one where I will finally be fulfilled.

We want to be fulfilled. We want to be happy. We want peace. We want to love and we all want to be loved. But yet, so many times, we’re looking in all the wrong places. We think we find all of this, but it’s in all the wrong things. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, Paul states:

“Everything is lawful for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful for me,” but I will not let myself be dominated by anything.

Corinth was a pretty immoral place in that day. Not unlike the society we live in. But we often think we’ll find that fulfillment, that peace, that happiness, and that love in the things of this world, the material and the flesh. But as soon as we think we have it, it’s gone. And we need more. We’re chasing the wind, then end of the rainbow.

And so then Jesus comes into our lives, and He speaks to us, asking us plainly, in an ordinary way, “what are you looking for?  Tell me. Talk to me about it, and I can help you find it. I can provide the way.”

The question is, do we listen? Do we see it at that time? Do we see God in our midst, reaching out to us, calling us to do His work, to do His will? Are we like Samuel? Do we answer, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?  Do we say, Here I am Lord?

Or is it a missed opportunity?

Now, I know what some will say. How can I see God’s opportunities, and hear His voice in the bad, when people are suffering, when people are dying, in the injustice?

I can’t answer that, because I have hard enough time seeing him in those moment, and hearing His voice in the warm, cozy little world I live in. I hope to be there someday where I can more clearly hear His calling and His will, but I’m not there yet. I pray that those of you who struggle with answers and your faith, can find some sort of comfort and love and understanding in Christ, that you can feel Him in your life. I’m a work in progress, as all of us are.  I’ve even had prayers answered and I still question many times if God is there, and what the point of it all is, especially if I happen to watch the news for an extended time.

But I have hope. I have the desire to keep trying. Because I have the faith that there is a higher purpose, that He will bring good out of the bad, and that through prayer, I can somehow make a difference and that good can come from it. And I keep praying for the understanding and the wisdom and for those opportunities where I can grow as a human being into the type of person that God wants me to be, and where I can make a difference in the world.

I hope for this, every day. Most days I fail myself, but every once in a while – I see Him. I see the opportunity. And that makes me want to strive for more.

Recognizing God in the ordinary. Not just seeking Him. Not just looking back and realizing He was there, years down the road. But recognizing Him in the moment, hearing His voice, and actually choosing to do His will in the moment, in the ordinary – that is my theme for 2018. This is what I am looking for.

What are you looking for?

Todays readings for Mass

1 SM 3:3B-10, 19; PS 40; 1 COR 6:13C-15A, 17-20; JN 1:35-42

About the Author

My name is Joe LaCombe, and I am a writer in Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA. My amazing wife Kristy and I have been married for 15 years and we have an awesome little boy, Joseph, who is in 1st Grade! We are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Indiana where we volunteer with Adult Faith Formation, most recently with the marriage enrichment ministries. To see adults, and married couples embrace the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful thing, and being able to tap into my experiences and bring the message of God to people through the written word is a passion of mine. I am an avid runner! I love to run and be out in the nature that God created, so you will find me running not only on sunny days, but rainy days, and even snow! I love to train for and compete in distance races, and find a deep spirituality in running, and I see distinct parallels between running and spirituality and life. I am excited and extremely blessed to be able to contribute to this website and look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences!

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11 Comments

  1. John 16:
    12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” —-Jesus said that He has not yet told us all the truth, so therefore the Bible is still incomplete. We should now be looking for where we could find THE WHOLE TRUTH.

  2. In very rare times we have missed God’s opportunities, we have been called but we didn’t hear or we didn’t listen to the calling of God. As in the book of Genesis, God created us by his own image, but us as people we tend to forget that every human being was created in God’s image. We tend not to help our neighbors either because of their skin colour, race, their position in the society but if we are all God’s creation then why do segregate ourselves from others. Some of God’s opportunities turn to pass right in front of our eyes just because of our selfishness thought, works and eagerness not to help other. As mentioned in today’s gospel our bodies are a temple of God, we should live a humbled life, we should help others in need, we should help others to live the life of God, to have a better understanding of why God chose to give us breath of life. For the opportunities missed we pray that God may reveal them to us one day. We can live in the past but as we live daily preparing for the future, preparing for that day when the Lord call us, I pray that we love one another as God has loved us.

  3. I love how genuine you are. You speak from your heart with no pretense. You tell us your own struggles of faith and wanting to be a better person knowing that we all could be running out of time. I tell myself it’s never too late to find God, making time for the important things not the material things of this world. I know what I want to do, pray more, say the rosary more, be more forgiving, having patience for challenging people the list goes on. Turning seventy in a few months tells me now is the time for change because time is running out.
    God Bless you Joe you certainly are an inspiration.

  4. Hey Joe,

    The question that Jesus and you ask is one of my 3 favorite questions in the Bible, “What are you looking for?”.

    Answer that question truthfully will define who you are, your life.

    Mark

  5. Very nice reflection Joe, for many years I’ve struggled with – “what is God’s plan for me”. I may have passed many by but going forward, I just don’t know. Cardinal Newman wrote a wonderful prayer that I do look back on from time to time over the years, the prayer is “God’s plan for me”. You ever read it?
    If you think time flies by fast now, see how fast it flies by 15 to 20 years from now. 40 ain’t nothing! Enjoy 40 while it’s here! ;-).

  6. Thank you for your reflection.. This website helped me to grow as a Christian given the nature of my work as a seafarer.. God bless all of us here..

  7. Mark – thanks for the comment and thoughts. Curious, what are the other 2 questions on your list?

    Joe

  8. Joe,

    You do make a difference every time you publish one of your reflections. You help your readers get a deeper meaning from the daily mass readings. Therefore you help improve our personal relationships with our Heavenly Father and our savior Jesus Christ.

    You really use your god given talents for the benefit of your fellow man.

  9. Our is a journey to God. The unfortunate thing is the cares of the world blinds us. Thanks Joe for sharing your life. I run too. We don’t have snow here in the Philippines but our faith is glistening with the intensity – at least if you see our churches overflowing on Sundays. Your light shines bright because you have chosen to share it to others! To help them find their way. To God.

  10. Hey Joe,

    I’m glad you asked.

    My second favorite question what Jesus asks the Apostles in Mk 8:27, “Who do people say that I am?” This question will determine what religion a person follows.

    Lastly, Jn 18:38, the question that Pilate ask Jesus at the trial, “What is truth?” I have a hard time with this question. Relativism seems to creep into my answer when I know it is black and white. To be honest, I don’t ever recall Jesus ever answering a question beginning with the word “depends”.

    Mark

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