‘What Are You Looking For?’

The questions of Jesus lead to a deep source of intimacy

Comments Off on ‘What Are You Looking For?’

RaabIn January, on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we listen to Jesus in John’s Gospel ask us a very familiar question, “What are you looking for?” This question, from the divine, is anything but ordinary. It services as a spiritual touchstone for us priests and leaders. This wellspring of grace is poured out to us in the Gospel as we take Jesus’ question to heart.

The questions of Jesus are a deep source of intimacy. As priests, we often feel alone in the field, surrounded by people’s suffering, endless demands and overwhelming expectations. When we are pulled in many directions, we often forget the reason for our vocation and the foundation of our ministry. We forget to rely on Christ, who invites us to hush the noise of our day. We are here, in the parish or counseling chair, or at a teacher’s desk, to make sure the life of Christ Jesus is lived within us and shared in the work of our day.

We long for the beauty of Christ’s presence. The questions of Jesus, if we listen carefully, may lead us further into the mystery of life, well beyond our first answers. Often, we top off God’s grace because we believe we answered the questions of Jesus a long time ago. We may fear the deeper intimacy Christ has for us because we save the questions for occasions of prayer down the line, for the day we can offer them to someone who needs them. In the meantime, we are starving for Christ’s love, and we don’t really understand our loneliness and our depression, especially in January after all the Christmas talk about love, the Incarnation and family unity.

Our priesthood is extremely lonely when we do not pay attention to Jesus. On our own, we grow bitter, tired and cold. People know if we are responding to love. Our people see when we are worn out, lost in our busyness and overwhelmed in our own egos. Our people see right through empty homilies, our not wanting to meet people after Mass and our inability to give of ourselves. On many days, we may not have much to offer when the answers to Jesus’ questions in us have dried up.

Jesus’ questions are golden for clergy. They are rich and overflowing with Jesus’ compassion toward us. Jesus desires us not to pass them by. He invites us to enter more deeply into the deep well of his presence within them. They are a key to unlocking our aloofness, our own questions of life and healing our faulty life decisions. There is no one answer that will last us a lifetime. There is no one time in our life that we will have control over them. The questions of our vocation are a mystery. They remain open-ended questions and open-ended answers.

Jesus’ questions help us in the times when we believe our own answers will solve the problems in the Church. They appear before us in the Gospels just at the moment when we may believe we don’t need anything but our own opinions or viewpoints. There is deep grace in the center of divine questions that open us to surrender to God’s mercy and presence. Jesus’ questions are spiritual touchstones. They change us; they soften our approach when our own answers become prickly and self-sufficient.

As we turn the calendar to a new year, perhaps the questions of Jesus can be a rich source of reflection for us as priests. I invite you to keep a journal of the questions of Jesus. Use one question for a week or a month of prayer and as a prompt to begin writing. Perhaps the questions may become a source of prayer in preaching and with your encounters with people in ministry. Do not be afraid of the questions of the Master. Do not fear your answers when you listen carefully to him and to your life. Do not push them away or ignore them completely. Do not fill the empty hole they create in you with more work, more self-certainty or more words about your self-sufficiency.

The questions of Jesus in Ordinary Time are a genuine treasure. When we have the spiritual courage to encounter them again, to surrender to them, they may lead us into the depths of intimacy and love for Christ Jesus. We may see our vocations again in beauty and in purpose. So, what are you looking for?

FATHER RONALD PATRICK RAAB, CSC, serves as religious superior at Holy Cross House, a medical facility and retirement home for the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana. Learn more at

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe now.
Send feedback to us at