Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – Week of 1 Lent, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]
Today's Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49,  (evening)
1 Corinthians 2:1-13
Many people find it comforting that Jesus took time for a retreat of sorts, when he could recharge and refresh his relationship with God. According to our gospel passage from this morning, Jesus got up "while it was still very dark" and "went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed." But the next sentence reminds us of the ominous side to Jesus' withdrawal: "Simon and his companions hunted for him." Nowhere is safe for Jesus.
Today's gospel reading turns Jesus into a hunted man. If he gets up before dawn and flees to some deserted place, his friends hunt him down. If he changes his tactics and starts wandering and working miracles from town to town, people who need him hunt him down. In fact, after he is moved with compassion to touch a leper, it's open season on Jesus: "Jesus could no longer go into a town openly."
Over the years, I've heard wonderfully moving stories about moments in people's spiritual lives when they felt pursued by Jesus and chased by grace. But today's gospel reminds us of another direction that our spiritual journeys might take. Perhaps we need to go hunting for Jesus ourselves.
The hunt may take us to the quiet retreat where Jesus has gone to disappear. The hunt may take us from town to town, where we find concentrations of people in need. The hunt may draw us out into the country in search of safety and sanity. Jesus could be in any of these places, because Jesus has been there before.
If Jesus isn't showing up for us, where can we go to look for him? It might take focus, determination, and even aggression to lay our hands on the presence of Christ in our lives. And although Jesus continually came up against the limitations of his humanity in the face of the many friends and strangers who desired him, the living Christ is not so constrained. Just as Christ comes looking for us, so he longs to be hunted and claimed by us. So for today, let the hunt begin.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul's in Fayetteville, Arkansas.