Hopes and dreams, we all have them, some are realistic, and many are imaginary and illusionary.
The beginning of every New Year had often been a time to reflect on our goals and make resolutions which might make 2012 different from previous years. What we plan to achieve highlights what we believe to be of importance and of value. Looking at my own list and checking it against last year’s it’s amazing to see how some priorities have changed and how some have remained the same. More of a challenge is trying to access which are realistic and which are based on fantasy. Will I ever see Derry City or Liverpool win league championships, will I see Derry win an Ulster Title never mind an All Ireland, will I see Fr Canny resurrect his football career, will I see Fr Roland on X Factor? More modestly I have set a few goals regarding my ability to overcome one of the major disadvantageous of being a Derry man, namely an inability to fend or cater for myself.
Already this year which is nearly two weeks old I have cooked twice, once with a bit of assistance when tackling a new dish for the first time. Since December I have managed to cook Bolognese four times with various shapes of pasta; although in all honesty it has never tasted the same twice. I believe I’m of the old school when it comes to cooking, no measurements, everything is guess work, yet I’m still living to tell the tale and so are some others.
I even have been introduced to the novel experience of shopping in a supermarket; I must confess there have been a few occasions when a ‘sat nav’ would have been beneficial. The layout of every store is different and this can result in some fun and games. It can bring the child out in you and last week was no exception. I have a friend who is slightly sensitive about the density of the hair on his head. I couldn’t help myself taking a photograph with my camera phone and sending him an image of a bottle of ‘Wash and go’. He wasn’t happy, couldn’t repeat the response.
On the same shopping trip I was providing taxi services for another friend who is in a worse position than I am. He’s the same age and claims to be still living at home to look after his seventy year old father who still does his washing, ironing and cooking. In fairness my friend does the shopping with his father’s pension book and I had the privilege of accompanying him on Friday. I did feel awkward because as we walked around the store it felt like a scene from the odd couple.
This was only exaggerated when we arrived at the butcher’s counter. I was lost in my own world as he ordered half a pound of ham and half a pound of turkey breast; he must have been planning to make a sandwich. As this was taking place another girl from behind the counter was enquiring who was next in the queue and innocently she looked at us and asked, ‘are you’s together?’ In badness I said, ‘kinda.’ For what seemed like an eternity there was silence as she went red not knowing what to say, whilst the laughter rang out around us.
It’s all too easy to take ourselves too seriously, caught up with our own importance yet the imagine of John the Baptist is a constant reminder that the way we live our lives should always point others in the direction of Jesus as the Lamb of God. John knows in his heart and soul, his mission and vocation has been to reveal Jesus to others. There is no hint of ego or jealously, only the simple, honest and humble recognition of being in the service of the Father’s will.
Discipleship concerns our willingness to follow Jesus; often we need other to point us in the right direction, on other occasions we are the ones being asked to give direction to others. It is John who points out Jesus to two of his followers, in a similar fashion it is Andrew who brings Simon Peter to an encounter with the Lord. The faith community has an essential role to play in helping us to discover and remain in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Father’s only Son send to reveal God’s love and compassion for the world.
In the gospel we have a simple scene, yet it is very profound. In their first encounter with Jesus, John’s followers are asked, ‘what do you want?’ Jesus begins by meeting them in their human condition, asking them about are their hopes and dreams. We have to recognise the great truth about Jesus Christ, in him is the fulfilment of all our hopes, dreams and desires.
Like the disciples he asks all men and women of all generations to come and see where he lives, it is in the experience of spending time with Jesus we discover how he grants us a peace which the world can never give. Only in encountering Jesus will we find an answer to the restlessness which characterises our lives.
Our hearts were made for God and only God can satisfy the truth, hunger and thirst which tugs at the depths of our souls. Once we have found Jesus the greatest challenge is having the courage and commitment to remain with him. As we begin this new year may we find the time to make our homes in the Lord.