The ultimate home for Jesus, and us

| Father John Paul Erickson | January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Where are you?


“Where are you?”

These are the first words that God speaks after the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden, words announced as he looks for the fallen one during “the breezy part of the day” (Gen 3:8-9). But what do they mean?

Surely, the true and living God does not need anyone to tell him the physical location of the one he seeks. The words are hardly the plaintive plea for geographical coordinates. Rather, they are to be understood as a question of the heart: Where is your heart? Why do you hide from the one who made you? What have you given yourself over to in place of the one who alone satisfies? What do you seek?

That final rephrasing of his primordial question, a question that reverberates throughout all of Scripture, is placed directly upon the Savior’s lips by John in the holy Gospel for Jan. 14. They are words spoken by the God-man at about four in the afternoon, which might otherwise be described as “the breezy part of the day.” And like those words in Genesis, the meaning of the inquiry of the One who silences storms with a word from his lips is not to be found at first glance. The Lamb is echoing the word of the Father, a word of love and concern and compassion. They are the words of a shepherd, who sees his flock scattered and afraid, and who seeks to save them. He seeks to bring them home, where the restless heart will finally be granted rest, and the fear that followed close behind the shameful nakedness of the fall of man is put to death forever.

The answer of Andrew and his unnamed companion to the question of Christ is equally laden with deep existential meaning — “Where are you staying?” The answer to this seemingly simple question of geography is not found in some efficiency apartment in Galilee. It is found in the farewell discourse, spoken in the upper room and recorded in chapters 14-17 of the Johannine Gospel. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (14:10). This is the ultimate home of Jesus, the eternal place where he is staying — with the Father. And it is this Father who through, with and in Jesus seeks us out so as to bring us home, back to that paradise from which we fled and a paradise not to be found in gardens, but in the green pastures of divine life.

The readings for the second Sunday in Ordinary Time bring to mind questions of vocation. The calling of Samuel, the powerful refrain of the responsorial psalm, the Gospel scene depicted, even the words of Paul to the Corinthians regarding the dignity of the body — they all remind us of the dignity and greatness of responding with generous fervor to the invitation of the Lord. “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will!” May these be our words to the many invitations God extends to us every day, whether by means of our conscience, the liturgy, private prayer or tradition.

But let us not forget that the first one to speak these words “Here I am!” is the One who seeks us and cries out even now, “Where are you? I am looking for you! I love you! I want you to come home! Come back to me! With a Father’s love, I thirst for you!”

Do not be afraid of the One who calls you in the midst of the night. It is the Lord, and he yearns to again walk with you.

Where are you?

Father Erickson is the director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul.

Sunday, Jan. 14
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Category: Featured, Sunday Scriptures