In the gospel of John, the very first words of Jesus pose an eternal question.
Andrew and another apostle-to-be were disciples of John the Baptist. One day, when their paths crossed, the Baptizer pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples went after Jesus. He turned and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
They didn’t respond, but two verses later, Andrew tells his brother, Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah.” But, honestly, neither had the slightest idea of what that meant.
We should remember something about Andrew and his friend. If we believe the story of the temple tax in Matthew, only Jesus and Peter had to pay the fee required of males age 20 and older. The others were just teenagers.
Ask a teenager today, “What are you looking for?” If you are lucky enough to get a response, you’ll probably find that, like Andrew and the other, they are looking for meaning in life.
Many youth, as well as no small number of their elders, see meaning as a soul mate, the perfect job, the right thinking or the true creed.
Too often, we discover the elusive treasure we longed for is less than we intended it to be. We can’t burden another with our need for meaning, and as perfect, right, or true as something may be, it still comes up short.
Jesus answers the question He poses as He guides His disciples through the Palestinian countryside, ministering to the poor, the hungry, the desperate and the oppressed.
The life He modeled was care for the other.
Jesus didn’t find meaning, but created it by responding to the conditions of life with love and active concern.
Meaning ultimately depends on how we play the cards we’re dealt.
Sue Burns drew a hand of osteosclerosis, a bone disease that left her with movement in only her arms and feet. Imprisoned in a bed, she built a global support network for others whose lives had crashed against the rocks of fate.
In 1987, Bono sang, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” but that changed when he applied his fame and fortune to the fight against poverty.
But no less is an elderly woman calling homebound neighbors to check on them. Or school children making Christmas cards for prisoners. Or a mother creatively using her meager pantry to make the best meal possible for her family.
So, what are you looking for?