By Deacon John De Gano
The other day Cheryl and I saw the movie “Searching.” It tells the story of a parent who, facing a family crisis, discovers that he really knew very little about his own child. Now that she is missing he attempts to discover, through the means of social media, who her friends were and who might have been the last to see her.
This thought-provoking movie made we wonder about what we really know about one another. We may think we understand each other’s motivations and therefore we think we can predict with some certainty what they will eat, drink and say. But that does not get to their core being. That is, the heart of the matter.
Only Jesus can see into the heart of another individual…
“Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.” – John 6:15
Growing up, Jesus must have heard stories about the promised Messiah of God who would throw off the Jewish oppressors and restore the Kingdom. After all, Jewish nationalism was always simmering just below the daily drudgery of life under the constant gaze of the Roman Empire, and false-messiahs came and went with regularity.
At the age of 12, Jesus was found by his parents in the Temple at Jerusalem. Could he have been arguing with the religious leaders over the divergent descriptions of the Messiah and that of the Prophet Isaiah’s suffering servant?
Had the proverbial light bulb gone on and he realized that the passage referred to himself, or would he read and re-read the same passage for the next twenty-some years and pray for understanding? Could it refer to him?
We can’t say for sure. We don’t hear from Jesus again in the Scriptures until his baptism. By then he has accepted his mission, gathered his disciples together and has begun to attract attention with reports of miraculous healings and other signs and wonders.
What we do know is that the people fell back into their erroneous beliefs and tried to make him fit their messiah-mold -- their image of god, not God’s. One that Jesus would choose to reject.
Some scholars have even suggested that Judas’ intent in turning Jesus over to the authorities was to force his hand. That is, make him a reluctant messiah and King. If that was Judas’ plan, his effort failed.
The Bible is the story of searching; searching for God and God’s searching for us, his beloved creation.
God searched for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after their disobedience. When Moses led the people out of slavery, they whined about everything – food, water, even the heat. And as soon as Moses went up Mt. Ararat to get the Ten Commandments, they rebelled and broke the first three!
Later, the magi searched the heavens for a sign and found the babe lying in a manger in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem as they would have expected to find the “king of the Jews.” King Herod, fearful that this babe would overthrow his government sought to have Jesus killed and sent troops to slay every child under the age of three. The Holy Family escaped to Egypt and later returned to Nazareth where Jesus remained until he began his ministry.
In spite of our lack of faith and understanding, God continues to provide for the needs of his people. It is not our perfection that gives us grace but rather God’s love and forgiveness that gives us the courage to continue on in spite of our fears and our sense of unworthiness.
St. Paul called this “running the good race.” We must persevere in faith and cross the finish line if we are to receive the “crown of victory” (eternal life).
We do this when we…
Search the scriptures!
Search the heart!
But find Jesus.
That’s the goal.
The Internet can do many things.
But without Jesus all our searching is in vain.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.