4th Sunday of Easter – 3rd May
One of the most important parts of our lives is the name we are known by. It not only creates our identity but allows us to respond to those who call us. Yet our name is used in many different contexts. In this modern age with advanced technology, people can use our name for their good either to sell us something or to convince us to buy into their opinion. Especially in this time of social distancing, it is possible to be lured into buying something or settling for another’s opinion simply because they seem to know something about us. In the age of advanced algorithms, a person can take our interests to their hearts for their good rather than our own. I am very conscious of this with some websites which review purchases and seem to understand what we want before we do! This makes us very vulnerable to those who want to profit from our desire for intimacy and to be known.
Yet the Gospel of this week paints a very different picture. It does not look for recognition outside us but an intimate knowledge of who we are. In fact, this is part of our pilgrim journey and good friendships. This is about spending time with another not because of what we can get out of it but simply to be in the presence and company of another as ourselves. In fact, this is what prayer seeks as well. Prayer is not about creating a shopping list but rather attentiveness to God as we are and God’s awareness of ourselves. In many ways, we look at God and God looks at us. This time does not have to be multilayered or complex it is just a simple surrender to the God who is as we are. We are befriended as we are, not as we think we should be.
When we have this familiarity of listening to the voice that seeks the best for us and leads us into good pasture, we seek it more and more. This daily listening not only sustains us but leads us to trust in God more deeply. We start to recognise this voice amidst all the voices which can besiege us. There is a longing which burns within us and guides us to respond naturally to the life we have been given. Especially, at this time we are called to enter into that inner room which sustains us and enlivens us to be present. No longer are we called to be afraid but to seek God in all things and in all people.
Fr. John Armstrong