It is the beginning of a new year; we are making our New Year’s resolutions. Jesus asks us, “What are you looking for?” The Gospel invites us to reflect on the most important resolution we will make for 2012: How we want our relationship with Jesus to grow.
When we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that there are certain very personal and often complex areas of our lives that still await integration with following Jesus. We hesitate to bring these areas to Jesus because we are afraid that he will not fully understand our struggle.
I suspect that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews dealt with similar fears until he finally realized that Jesus did understand human weakness and complexity, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who is tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned.”
I suspect that the Fathers of Vatican Council II in Church in the Modern World wanted to alleviate similar fears when they reaffirmed the doctrine of the full humanity of Jesus, “For by his Incarnation the Son of God united himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice, and loved with a human heart. He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.”
The deepest yearning of the human heart is the yearning to live in communion with God — yes, to live in communion even in the awkward and complex and often overlooked areas of our lives: careers, relationships, failures, unemployment, sexuality, loneliness, health, aging.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the daughter of a wealthy Episcopalian New York merchant family, is a model for integrating the complex areas of life with a deeper relationship with Jesus. She moved from marriage and family within the Episcopal church, to widowhood and transition to the Catholic faith, to becoming a religious and founding the American branch of the Daughters of Charity, to starting the first United States Catholic school in her home -- she is now the patroness of American Catholic schools.
Jesus is inviting us -- as he invited his first disciples and as he invited St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — to walk more closely with him in the complexity of our lives.
“Rabbi,where are you staying?” “Come and you will see.”
We pray for the grace to be open to Jesus’ invitation to follow him more closely in 2012.
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