Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?”

The department store clerk, working on commission, approaches you and asks, “What are you looking for?” “Just browsing,” you reply.

Lots of browsing in churches and other places of worship these days. It’s what cynics call, “Ala cart Catholics.”

But what about us? We the regulars at this weekly feast and perhaps a browser present somewhere in the congregation.

We are all the disciples walking in the shadow of Jesus Christ. He hears some sandals crunching the sand behind him and wonders what’s going on here. So, he naturally turns around and asks the groupies, “What are you guys looking for?”

They’re dumbfounded because life’s question has been asked to them. “What do I say?” “Because, frankly I don’t know?” It’s the third most question asked right behind, “Why am I here?” What and why? Almost always unanswerable so it’s easy to keep asking it. Safer that way.

You know folks, we appear to have a problem locating ourselves at any given moment in life. Where’s a GPS app for Catholics? I call them the “Three ‘W’” questions. (A clue: the first two are the wrong “W’s.”) The “whats and “whys” of life are the easiest to ask because they are never answered. They are the safe questions with no risk and no divine answer.

“What’s happening to me?” “Why am I here?” The best question only begins with the only authentic “W” word – “Who?” Who am I during my one-time episode, my one-time appearance in this wonderful book called “Salvation History?”

Is it looking for easy answers to questions we can barely articulate? Or does magic win out over mystery in our searchings? How many religions promise that you’ll like yourself more if you only believe their teachings (and a little cash helps)? “Ahhh, I want to like myself more!” The worst search of all is to freely hand over your personal responsibility to someone else, aka God. “Oh, now I got it, God’s the reason for my crummy life!”

Begin each morning with this question of faith from our man of faith, “What are you looking for?” Your response then turns out the “Who question.” Who are you? This insight then becomes living that day; and the days after that. But I’m not finished yet. Asking “who” questions becomes a collaboration between you and God witnessed within the Body of Christ.

That department store clerk working on commission? That’s Jesus Christ. He works on commission. He’s commissioning us to be Him, as best we can – sometimes without asking that often unanswerable question. That’s Christ’s paycheck.

“Oh, I’m just browsing,” as if to say, “leave me alone and let me roam life’s aisle after aisle without every shopping or buying. No investment. How about immersing yourself in the mystery of God’s love every single day. Then your looking and searching just may be found and answered.

While walking in the shadow of Jesus who’s the subject in his question? “What are YOU looking for?” That’s borderline selfish. That’s like talking to a shadow, walking in darkness or colors of gray and waiting for some kind of answer. Better yet, let’s not walk behind Jesus but let’s walk alongside him and then hear the real question asked of us from his Father.

With our little sins (that we make out to be so great) and so much more grace (that we keep turning down) living within our lives; God, the Father, asks each and everyone of us, “What am I looking for in you?”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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