I Sought Him

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Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 102:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Draw Near to Hear

The first line of today's Holy Gospel is the key to all the rest: "The tax collectors and the sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus" (Lk 15:1). They drew near to hear Jesus; this is the listening that changes life, and in this, tax collectors and sinners are our teachers. One cannot hear rightly while remaining at a distance.

God Seeking Man

Our Lord says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn 6:44). The Father seeks us to draw us close to the Son. In the canticle at Lauds we sang: "He sought them out in the wilderness, there in the fearful desert spaces, gave them the guidance, taught them the lessons they needed, guarded them as if they had been the apple of His eye" (Dt 32:10). God seeks us. When one consents to being found by Him, a flame of desire begins to flicker within: an inarticulate yearning to be enfolded in God's protecting love, and to be sheltered in the "shadow of His wings" (Ps 16:8).

Repentance

One begins to turn one's life around when one begins to experience one's need for God painfully. So it was with the prodigal son. "Then he came to himself and said, How many hired servants there are in my father's house, who have more bread than they can eat, and here am I perishing with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee; I am not worthy now to be called thy son; treat me as one of thy hired servants" (Lk 15: 17-18).

Feeling the Pain

One experiences this painful awareness of the need for God in different ways. Loneliness, for example, can be an immense grace if it orients the heart towards God alone. Failure can serve the designs of God's mercy when it obliges one to seek Him, to call to Him out of the depths of one's brokenness. Illness can become a gift; the awareness of one's weakness can become the discovery of Christ's unfailing strength. Disappointments in human love can lead to drive one to the only Love that never deceives nor disappoints. God alone can satisfy the deepest longings of the heart.

Upon my Bed by Night

The bride of the Canticle of Canticles describes the experience of every human heart tormented by the desire for God: "Upon my bed by night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him but he gave no answer. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves" (Ct 3:1-2). The nocturnal disquiet of the beloved in the Canticle is the image of restlessness in the soul. There is, within each one, an appetite more relentlessly gnawing than the appetites of the senses: the appetite for intimacy with God.

Where Art Thou?

The Word of God Himself has come down into the streets and squares of the city in search of all who search for Him, just as in the first pages of Genesis, the Father walked in paradise in the evening breeze (Gn 3:8) and called to Adam, saying, "Where art thou?" For this very reason does He abide, day and night, in the tabernacles of our churches. There too does He say, as the Father said in paradise, "Where art thou?" For He who has come in search of us, He who waits for us, is left alone. Though He searches for every man, there are few, very few, who search for Him. Though He is patient in waiting for man; there are few, very few who know how to wait in silence for Him.

He Entertains Sinners

Jesus gave sinners a warm and kindly reception. This troubled the Pharisees and the scribes, just as the elder brother was troubled by the father's lavish welcome of the prodigal son. "Here is a man," they said, "that entertains sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15:2). The Pharisees and the scribes felt snubbed and, in the parable, the elder son was angry and refused to go into the feast.

Our Lord welcomes all who seek his company. He excludes no one, keeps no one at a distance. The faithful and law-abiding, nonethless, must be willing to mingle with transgressors and wastrels, for these are the preferred guests of the Sacred Heart. By sharing His table with sinners, Our Lord reveals the mystery of the Divine Hospitality. "If a man has any love for me, he will be true to my word, and then he will win my Father's love, and we will both come to him, and make our continual abode with him" (Jn 14:23-24).

The Sacraments

Every decision to approach the sacraments replicates the resolve of the prodigal son: "I will arise and go to my father" (Lk 15:18). The Father, while we are still at a distance, sees us coming. He is moved with compassion. He runs to enfold us in His embrace and cover us with kisses. This is why one must situate Confession and Absolution on the road to the banquet of the Most Holy Eucharist. The Sacrament of Penance prepares us for Holy Communion; it is an outpouring of the compassion of the Son; it is the embrace of the Father; it is the welcoming kiss of the Holy Spirit.

Divine Hospitality

Confession and Holy Communion are where the dead are raised to life. Confession and Holy Communion are where the lost are found. Confession and Holy Communion are mysteries of the mercy and the hospitality of God towards sinners. Divine hospitality is not extended to sinners as a gracious afterthought; it is offered first to sinners.

In Our Father's House

Today again, the house of our Father resounds with music and dancing (Lk 15:25). If one follows the sound of that music, one will be led to the altar and to the immolated Lamb. A cloud of witnesses surround the altar, singing and proclaiming with an unspeakable joy: "He welcomes sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15:2). Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.

1 Comments

"For He who has come in search of us, He who waits for us, is left alone. Though He searches for every man, there are few, very few, who search for Him. Though He is patient in waiting for man; there are few, very few who know how to wait in silence for Him."

This speaks volumes, especially in light of family matters. Thank you for this post, Father.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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