Daily Meditations

The Fifteenth Day of Christmas Advent. We are All Searching.

WE ARE ALL SEARCHING, AND ULTIMATELY—whether we know it or not—we are searching for God. Ultimately, we are searching for the Ultimate, and the Ultimate is God. It is not easy, searching for God.

Think about it. We can stretch our minds as high and deep and far as our minds can stretch, and at the point of the highest, deepest, farthest stretch of our minds, we have not “thought” God. There is always a thought beyond what we are able to think. God is, quite literally, inconceivable. And that is why God was conceived as a human being in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Because we cannot, even in thought, rise up to God, God stooped down to us in Jesus, who is “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”

As we are searching for God, the good news is that God is searching for us. Better yet, he has found us. The great question is not whether we have found God but whether we have found ourselves being found by God. God is not lost. We were, or, as the case may be, we are. There are many ways of being lost. Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. As in the days of Noah before that great flood, we were lost in eating and drinking, in marrying and giving in marriage. In a word, we were lost in living what we told ourselves was the good life. We wanted more and more of it, and the more we had of it the more we longed for what is beyond the reach of our longing or the grasp of our possessing. In our longing and our searching, we were blind to the gift already given, Emmanuel: God with us.

Here is what St. Paul says: “It is full time now for you to wake from sleep.” He is telling us to wake up to the gift already given. This season of the Church’s calendar is called Advent, which means “coming.” Christ came, Christ comes, Christ will come again. There is no time—past, present, or future—in which Jesus the Christ (which means Jesus the anointed one) is not God with us. He was with you yesterday, is with you today, and will be with you tomorrow. So we are invited to give up our searching and let ourselves be found by the One who wants to be with us, and to have us with him, forever.

We are forever seeking, while the forever for which we seek is now. Awaken to the truth that any place contains every place and every moment contains eternity. And that is because Christ is Emmanuel, the One whom the Book of Revelation calls the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. We might say that he is the A and the Z.) He is the Word of God who called into being everything that is or ever has been or ever will be. He is the One in whom past, present, and future are always now.

Seekers and searchers of all times have looked toward the heavens in order to find God. Then the gift was given. Mary’s searching was interrupted by an angel who promised that soon, very soon, in a matter of nine months, she would look not up but down, into the face of the baby in her arms, into the face of God. This is called incarnation, meaning that God is enfleshed in our humanity.

She said to the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word.” And so it was. And so it is with all who, wearied by their searching, wake up to the gift already given; so it is with all who wake up to find themselves found by Emmanuel, God with us.

~Adapted from Richard John Neuhaus, “First Sunday of Advent,” GOD WITH US:  Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe