Dear friends. In one of their best known songs from their album ‘The Joshua Tree’, Irish band U2 penned a song about something that strikes a chord in the heart of all of us: ‘I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through the fields….I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls…But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’. In the song and in our hearts’ mind, there is no doubt that it is we who do the searching. But as the song suggests, all this searching, running, climbing and crawling can leave us exhausted and with no guarantee that we will find what it is we are really looking for.
Today’s first reading from the book of Genesis, invites us to see things differently. It is a story that reminds us that while we certainly do search for God, he also searches for us. In the story of Adam and Eve after the fall, we are told: ‘The Lord God called to the man after he had eaten of the tree. ‘Where are you?’ he asked.’ Having found his rebel children, he offers them another chance to share His divine love. This initiative of God was a sign of things to come throughout the Old Testament and continued in the New Testament with Jesus. The Bible recalls many stories from the history of our Jewish ancestors and the history of the Christian community we call the Church. Though these stories are different, there is a constant theme running throughout: that of God’s love for His people and his saving presence in their history. It is a love story that is marked by intimacy, love betrayal, separation, reconciliation and forgiveness. God’s love is always active and searching.
In the New Testament, Jesus he showed us how far he was prepared to go in order to seek out and be with those he loved. He is the Good Shepherd who pursues the lost sheep even to the remotest places and who does not rest until he has safely returned it to the flock (cf. Luke 15). At the Eucharist, we recall the nature of God’s mercy that never gives up on us, ‘Even when we disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon us to the power of death but helped all people to seek and to find you’ (Eucharistic Prayer 4).
As He was dying on the cross, Jesus uttered the words ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28). His thirst was a severe physical thirst because of dehydration and loss of blood but the term also has deeper spiritual meaning in terms of God’s thirst for us. He thirsts for us to live the fullness of life that he came to offer and so be living witnesses to the glory of God. He thirsts for our recognition and our affection. At the side of a well near Galilee, Jesus addressed us through the Samaritan woman when he said ‘Give me something to drink’ (John 4:7). With these words, Jesus shows how he had ‘taken the form of a slave’ (cf. Philippians 2:7) and asks for our love like a someone hungry asks for bread. Before he died,
Jesus prays ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am’….(John 17:24). The emotion of these words reveal a man and a God who longs for the company of those he loves so dearly. And so we see that we thirst for God but that God also thirsts for us. Like two lovers, both of us will not be happy unless we are together.
It is a beautiful thought to think of God as a lover who pursues us. Just like a lover, He wants to be with us, He wants our attention, wants to listen to us and to hear our voice. The image of two people consumed with love for each other is approaching the closest that we can come to experiencing God. Yet it is St. Paul who tells us that ‘No eye has seen nor ear heard, things beyond the mind of humans, has God prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). Such a statement gives us a tiny insight into the wonder of who we are as God’s children. The human love we share between us is but a glimpse of God’s love but is never equal to it. God promises us that the best is yet to come.