Not just Looking but Searching
Homily for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Preached on May 11-12, 2013 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53
When I was growing up, my Mom had her hands full with my younger siblings and with the chores that had to be done in our home. And so, she would often send me, the firstborn, on an errand to get something that she needed around the house. She had the best timing in the world: she always asked when I was watching my favorite TV show or when I was really enjoying being out with my playmates. Being the ever dutiful son, I would quickly obey and scamper off to scan the house for whatever it was that she wanted. I never found anything on the first try. I would report to her that the thing that she needed was nowhere where I could find it: “E que iquit. I could not find it.” “Macananu meng aquit,” she would respond, “nung lalaue ca pero e na ca man manintun? How can you find it when you are just looking and not searching?”
My Mom thus taught me, even at a young age, that there is a big difference between looking and searching: it is the amount of effort that one devotes into the pursuit. Looking only involves what one could see from the surface. Searching demands that one does not quit until what is being sought is finally found. Or, in the words of my Mom, looking means “using only your eyes: gagamitan mu la mu ring mata mu.” Searching requires using “everything else that God gave you;” it means getting down on one’s hands and knees, if need be.
The evangelist Luke tells us that the apostles were tempted to keep looking for the Lord after He had ascended into Heaven (cf. Acts 1:9-11). They gazed intently at the heavens (Acts. 1:10), perhaps hoping to catch another glimpse of the One who had been hidden from their sight (cf. Acts 1:9). They kept staring at the sky until two men in white asked them what it was that they were doing: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” (Acts. 1:11)
The Lord had passed from their sight (cf. Acts 1:9), but it did not mean that He could no longer be found. The apostles wanted to keep seeing Him; that was why they would not take their eyes from the sky (cf. Acts 1:11). Yet, the Lord intends for His followers not only to look for Him, but to seek Him. Thus, Saint Paul prays for the Ephesians and for all believers that the eyes of their hearts be enlightened (cf. Eph. 1:18) because only those eyes of faith can find the Lord who is no longer visible and yet is still perceivable.
We modern day believers face the same temptation of the apostles of old: we too are inclined to look no further than what is in front of our naked eyes. Yet, our Faith demands that we look beyond what is seen to find Him who is unseen. This calls us to leave no sacrament uncelebrated, no prayer unsaid, no act of charity undone, no article of the Creed unprofessed, no part of the Gospel unpreached until our daily living reveals everywhere the abiding presence of our Lord. We ought then to speak and to act in such a way that nobody has to dig deep into our lives to find some proof that we are Catholics. They only need to look at us to find a vibrant and burning faith in Christ.
We live in a world that claims that Christ can no longer be found. That is because so many are too lazy to get down on their hands and knees to seek Him. They are content with the things below. But, it is our mission to “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:2) because we know that only those can help us to give this world and ourselves a glimpse of the unseen face of Christ and a taste of the untold joy that He has in store.