Seeking God is an ardent desire and mission of human life on earth. All the great patriarchs, prophets and saints sought God in different situations of their life. The Bible is filled with such encounters, where God reveals Himself to those who seek him.
“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord.” – (Jeremiah 29:13 – 14)
After the fall, Adam and Eve chose to hide and move away from the presence of the Almighty. Our God, who is love itself chose to seek out Adam and Eve and their offspring to bring them closer to him. To breach the gap with the human soul, God gave His Only Son, Jesus (Genesis 3:15; John 3:16). The promise of the Saviour lies deeply in the heart of Israel as they waited for their Messiah. We see during the birth of Jesus, the different people who sought the Lord and found his presence in the incarnate infant in the manger.
Mary, a young woman in Nazareth sought the Lord throughout her life. When the angel declared that the promise of the Saviour would come true through her, Mary’s yes resonated her ardent desire to seek God’s will in her life. Her song of praise records Israel’s waiting for the Saviour. “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:54-55) Mary anticipated the fulfilment of the prophecy in the coming of Jesus. Her constant seeking of the Lord helped her to remain vigilant and ready for her part in the salvation story. Pope Benedict XI writes in Verbum Domini that Mother Mary possessed ‘an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.’
So does St Joseph. Joseph was so attuned with seeking God in all his ways, that even in sleep he was able to identify and discern God’s direction. Once he gets those directions, St Joseph acts immediately in obedience to God’s command. Pope Francis points out in his Apostolic Letter Patris Cordis that during every situation in his life, Joseph’s yes reflected Mary’s fiat and Jesus’ prayer during his time of desperation in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he says, ‘Yet let your will, not mine, be done.’ Jesus’ infancy was marked with chases, homelessness and infanticide. This ‘courageous and firmly proactive’ attitude of Joseph led him to be the protector of the holy family, especially during times of crisis. His search for God led him to be the guardian of the Word Incarnate on earth.
Elizabeth and Zechariah’s search
Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah are described as righteous in all their ways. They sought God among their trials in life. When Mother Mary came to help her cousin when she was six months pregnant, the constant search of Elizabeth identified the Divine presence in her household through Mary. St Elizabeth was open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and declared from her experiences a precept to find God – “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45). One of the keys to find God is through faith. As Saint Augustine describes it, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
St Zechariah might not have been like his wife in believing. His moment of doubt brought about a brief spell of silence in his life. Through this silence, he learnt to believe and declare God’s plan for the whole of humanity. He describes the fullness of finding God in his canticle in Luke 1:75-76, – “that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Seeking God ensures in our lives the slaying of sin and the destruction of fear. Through Jesus we are confirmed in our identity as God’s children and assured of his unfailing love.
The shepherds’ call
One night when the shepherds were carrying out their duty of watching their flock, an angel declared the good news of the birth of the Saviour. The shepherds were also not passive onlookers of this beautiful heavenly spectacle, where they saw choirs of angels sing glory to God. They rushed to find the little child in a manger; to experience that which the Lord had revealed to them (Luke 2:15-20). They sought the Lord and were not intimidated by darkness or distance. They did not step back when the sight of the angels’ grandeur did not match with the helpless baby in humble circumstances. They sought God, followed his Word and found him. They did not stop at that. Scripture reveals that they spread the message of Good News, that which was given to them. They did not hold on to the miracle in their life, but testified to the glory of God.
Wise Men brave Herod to find baby Jesus
The three wise men became representatives of people from far and wide. They were the Gentiles who recognised that Jesus’ salvation extended to the whole world. They braved rugged terrains, climatic conditions, difficult travel environments and most of all the cruel ruler Herod to find baby Jesus. All that had them moving was their hope in the Star. They did not let anything stop them from going towards Jesus. Their wisdom helped them to discern the wonder that was to be among them. The three wise men moved out of their comfortable homes and situations in search of God. They found Jesus in the manger and gave him gifts, indicating their perseverance and eagerness to see God and serve him.
During the Presentation of Jesus
The path of holiness is the path to see God, for as Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). We hear of two such holy people who sought God throughout their lives and they came to see him at the temple. Simeon, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, was able to see Jesus’ divinity, when he was brought as a little babe to be presented at the temple. Anna, a prophetess, who devoted her life to God also looks at little Jesus and understands God’s revelation. Simeon and Anna constantly sought God, and hence were able to see what other people at the temple could not see on that day (Luke 2:22-38). They were models of the vigilant servants whom Jesus would speak of in one of his discourses, “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.” (Luke 12: 35-36). Simeon and Anna by recognizing Jesus’ divine nature also discerned his life’s purpose. They gave powerful testimonies of Jesus that would be recorded and meditated upon for generations to come.
God wants to be found
Our God wants to be found. He is waiting to reveal himself to us. Jesus resounds this in the Sermon on the Mount. “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7). Jesus came into the world to reveal the Father’s love, to bring God closer to the human heart and to establish his kingdom in each one of us. Through the gift of free will and grace, let us undertake to seek the Lord with all our heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4: 29) so that we will find him and in him the purpose of our lives.