By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Everyone is Searching for Jesus

Job speaks for many when he says: "I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me . . . My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope." (Job 7:3,6) In the first reading of Sunday's Mass we heard this cry of anguish, an ancient lament that finds a modern echo in the suffering of a great many of our contemporaries. The fact that many people today find their lives devoid of meaning and hope is witnessed in the tragic reality of suicide and the worrisome lobbying for the legalization of euthanasia.

What is the antidote to this very real misery? Many try to find it in the various "isms" that surround us: atheism (human suffering means that there is no God), materialism (I can fill up the gap within me by a multitude of possessions), hedonism (seeking pleasure for pleasure's own sake) and so on. Yet these aren't antidotes at all. They simply prolong and even deepen the pain. The truth is that the remedy is not an "ism," not any human philosophy. It is a person: Jesus Christ.

In the same Sunday Mass a passage from the Gospel of Mark recalls Jesus healing many sick persons and casting out demons (cf. Mark 1:29-39). His presence and his touch restore to life. Particularly striking in consideration of Job's cry is the following statement: "Everyone is searching for you" (Mark 1:37). Everyone. In the immediate context of the narrative this "everyone" refers to the people of the Galilee region, but in the light of Jesus's true identity it refers to all people of all time. His presence and his love give real meaning and abiding hope.

Job's experience of emptiness is, in fact, a universal one. Therefore, it is important to understand it. The human being has been created in the image and likeness of God. This means that God has created us for himself, for a relationship of love. We experience this fundamental dimension of our nature as a longing deep within, a void that only the love of God can fill. Long ago St. Augustine captured this universal human experience in his famous cry: "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."

That our hearts might, indeed, find rest; that our emptiness might be filled; that our longing for meaning might be satisfied, God sent His Son, Jesus. This is why it is true that everyone is searching for Jesus, whether they know it or not. Only he can satisfy, simply by his presence, the deep longing of every human heart. Remember the phrase I love to quote from Blessed John Paul II? "Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life." He is the reason for our hope.