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Engaging the Word: January 18, 2015

“What ought I to do next?” It is the question we necessarily ask ourselves in every waking moment, and in every moment we answer. We might choose what is most immediately pleasurable. We might choose to do what is least immediately painful. We might choose to act on some principle to which we have committed ourselves. We might choose to do what we are coerced to do. To be human is to have the freedom to respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

To be human is also to seek a guide for our choosing. We want to have an aim or an end, and we want to grasp the logic that will guide our path to our goal. Some argue that we each can choose our own end, that there is no set aim for human life. Those who put their faith in this view construct their end and then only seek to discover and take the most effective path to achieving it. Others recognize in themselves and in the world around them that the underlying logic to the way things are has its source in the fundamental Logic of all else that is, in a Creator, in God.

If we are among those who find our source and end in a loving God who holds us in being in every instant, then it makes sense for us to look to God for clues as we exercise our free choice. Sometimes these clues come to use as quiet calls from within ourselves, and we, like Samuel, might need a spiritual guide to help us be prepared to listen. Sometimes, like Andrew and the other disciple of John the Baptist in the selection we read today from the Gospel of John, we need the help of someone to point us toward the place where we might find the answer to how we should live. John pointed to Jesus saying, “Behold the Lamb of God,” and his disciples followed Jesus. When Jesus asked, “What are looking for?” and they responded, “Where are you staying?” Jesus responded “Come and see.”

The beauty of Christianity is that fundamentally we come to know how we are called to respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves by looking to a person, to a human person in whom we also recognize our Creator and our end; we are graced to be able to learn from a human person who is at the same time the very end we seek. In getting to know Jesus we become more fully alive, more fully our very selves. Through our relationship with Jesus we are empowered to avoid wasting our lives and in this way our lives are saved. As our lives are saved we realize that we are joined together with one another and with God in one body and animated by one Spirit. In this Body of Christ we do not lose our freedom but rather join it to God’s freedom and truly come to life.

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