Where Do You Look for God?

Our favorite ethernet homilies come courtesy of Fr Vallee. His latest homily, begins as follows:

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and an unnamed disciple are the first to follow Jesus. The way the call takes place is extremely interesting. The two disciples ask Jesus where he lives. The two, then, spend the day with Jesus. Andrew promptly goes home and tells his brother, Simon: “We have found the Messiah.” It seems like the Gospel writer has left an awful lot of stuff out. What did Jesus say? What did Jesus do? Why is Andrew so sure that he is the one? It seems as though we have a call with no call. We know that there was a call but very little, almost nothing, about what the call was to or how the call took place.

To learn Fr Vallee’s answer to that interesting question, click on ‘Read more!’ below to see his entire homily at the end of this post. If you want to read more homilies by Fr Vallee, just enter ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper right corner.

—————————————————————————-
Fr Vallee’s Homily – Jan 18, 2009

I. Odd call
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and an unnamed disciple are the first to follow Jesus. The way the call takes place is extremely interesting. The two disciples ask Jesus where he lives. The two, then, spend the day with Jesus. Andrew promptly goes home and tells his brother, Simon: “We have found the Messiah.” It seems like the Gospel writer has left an awful lot of stuff out. What did Jesus say? What did Jesus do? Why is Andrew so sure that he is the one? It seems as though we have a call with no call. We know that there was a call but very little, almost nothing, about what the call was to or how the call took place.

II. What do we know?
So let us see what we do know from the little we are told. First, Jesus calls not men from the desert or religious leaders. He calls, not ascetics, scribes or Pharisees, but fishermen, uneducated men and, for the most part, married men. They are drawn to Jesus: not by what he says, he in fact does not preach to them; not by his political or ethical programs, he does not seem to have any; not by his theology, social work or ethics. They are drawn to Jesus by his evident holiness. Jesus is charismatic in the original and full sense of that term. But what is the source of that attractiveness?

III. What did he look like?
We do not know what Jesus looked like. Presumably, since he was a Jewish man, he looked like a Jewish man. I have never understood why so much religious art depicts him as a sort of bearded Brad Pitt. My guess is that the attempt to Christianize the Apollo Belvedere is just wrong on many levels. The whole point of the Gospels is that Jesus does not come as a political star or popular pretty boy. Look throughout history! Holy people are often slight, frail and not terribly attractive, St. Francis, Ghandi or Mother Teresa. The people of his day didn’t recognize Jesus because they were looking for him in the halls of power and privilege. I fear that if Jesus came back today, we wouldn’t recognize him either. We would look for one coming cloaked in power and glory, in beauty and strength. He did not, then, choose to come as High Priest or religious leader, why would he come back today as pope or priest? He did not then choose to be born as King of Israel, why would he today come back as President or movie star?

IV. Who followed him?
Moreover, look at the people who follow Jesus – the poor, the broken and the outcast. Hurt people are not drawn to the aggressively healthy, to the televangelist’s sugary rhetoric or 1000 dollar Armani suit, not even to the 2000 dollar Gamarelli cassock. Yet, hurt people are drawn to Jesus. Why? Because he understands their suffering. The attraction was in the fact that Jesus was a sensitive and loving man who affirmed and loved other hurt human beings. Jesus was not an athlete or a super salesman. He was not about power at all. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not that kind of a kingdom, is not of this world.” Jesus is not a superhero, not a sort of sandaled John Wayne coming to take out the bad guys. John Wayne never cried once in a movie, as Jesus does twice in the Gospels.

V. “Into the Wild”
When I was in seminary, I loved the gorgeous painting of Jesus by Piero della Francesca. The painting depicts Christ arising from the tomb, stately and impassive, bearing the marks of his crucifixion like purple hearts on a dress uniform. Just this week, I saw a marvelous film called “Into the Wild,” which is based on a true story. There is a scene where the main character is trapped in the wilderness. His face is scarred and scared. His beard and hair are unkempt. His eyes are wild with fear, pain and loneliness. I love Renaissance art and Piero della Francesca. But the true face of Christ, I am positive, is more like the haunted, hunted face of that young man lost in the wild.

VI. Conclusion
So, what do we know about why the first disciples were drawn to Jesus? This much, I think, at least: they were drawn by the holiness of a simple man, not by the beauty of a rock star or the power of hero. As St. Paul states with prodigious clarity: “Though Jesus Christ was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave.” If Jesus Christ laid aside power and embraced weakness, why, why do we still keep looking for him amidst the powerful rather than the weak?
———————————————————————

Advertisements

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s