We cannot ‘find’ God. But we can go to the place where God is seeking us.

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash

Lawrence will not be in church this morning, they said. He fell on the ice, crossing Main Street. He’s pretty banged up.

Indeed he was. Lawrence had a black eye and several dark, purple bruises on his face, legs and arms. It looked as though the man, well into his 90s, had been pummeled.

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Lawrence said with a sigh, “Father, I beat myself up, worse than Hitler did.” Lawrence had been a medical corpsman in the U.S. Army. He was among the forces that invaded Germany. Perhaps it was his wartime service that gave Lawrence a strong sense of the safety and surety of staying together, close to one’s comrades.

We use the word “God” to speak of that which is much too great for us to seek and to find. We cannot search for God to satisfy our curiosity. God must find us, or we are lost.

Like so many of his generation, Lawrence never missed Sunday Mass. Indeed, he retired to a home across the street from the church so that he could attend daily Mass as well. In his later years, Lawrence would listen as you lectured him about his safety, but, like a compulsive lover, he would not relent.

This year the Presentation of the Lord falls on a Sunday, presenting us with a tender Gospel scene. In the temple, an aged Simeon takes the child Jesus into his arms, praising the faithfulness of God. He is echoed by Anna, equally advanced in years.

This child is God’s unexpected, unmerited entrance into our world. He will not be contained by culture, cult or code. Yet note well that God’s great surprise is nonetheless brought, ever so humbly, to the Temple, whose time is almost passed. There the babe is received by those who are themselves the humble ones.

All that we truly know of ourselves is that we are incomplete. We long for some lover, whom we have never seen.

If the question is, where are we to seek God, then the answer must be, where can God not be found? Especially as God is ever seeking us? But that is not the question to ask. What utter presumption, this notion that we should seek God!

We use the word “God” to speak of that which is much too great for us to seek and to find. We cannot search for God to satisfy our curiosity. God must find us, or we are lost.

All that we truly know of ourselves is that we are incomplete. We long for some lover, whom we have never seen. We ourselves, our own personal stories, are the living questions that must find an answer. In some still-hidden lover we will discover our true sense of self.

God enters the Temple because God entered history. The Most High made a promise to his people, and he is faithful. The initiative was always God’s. So it must be. The only question to ask is whether or not we are among those who humble themselves, who await God in the temple.

The Temple in Jerusalem has fallen. The temple Christ promised to raise up continues to gather for the fellowship we call the Eucharist. How important to us is this decision of God to dwell in our days, in our streets and in our stories? Lawrence might have been reckless, but Lawrence was no fool. He knew what and who was to be found on the other side of the street.

Readings: Malachi 3: 1-4 Hebrews 2: 14-18 Luke 2: 22-40

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