“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he's near.” That comes from Isaiah 55:6. I've been thinking about that verse from Isaiah a lot over the past few weeks because it's been popping up pretty regularly for me. Either because someone directly quotes it, or someone alludes to it, which make me wonder if people understand who it is they're looking for and why. I wonder if they even know how to do it. This comes to mind because, in the past couple of years, I've been noticing some unexpected people in the pews at Mass; they're in their twenties, they're in their early thirties. They're very modern and trendy. You would expect to find them spending Sundays in recovery from the partying they did the night before and the night before that. You wouldn't expect to find them in church on a Sunday.
Yet there they are. They're trickling in. They're seeking the Lord while he may be found, but for what purpose? What exactly are they seeking, and why? Are they just seeking a sense of community and inclusion? Is that why they're at Mass? Are they seeking the Lord in order to find meaning and purpose in their lives? Are they seeking the Lord for his gentleness and love? Usually, those are exactly the reasons. Now, none of those are bad reasons for including the Lord in one's life. In fact, they're very good reasons to start off with, but are they enough?
Some people seek the Lord in scripture. They flip through the pages and only read bits and pieces of it. They kind of latch onto the easy parts, and they overlook or completely ignore the more challenging parts. They're seeking the Lord while he may be found, but what are they seeking him for?
Are they only looking for the model of what it means to be nice to others, and is that enough? Similarly, this can be true for the active practicing experienced Catholic as well. Sometimes, our failure of faith is that we seek the Lord while he may be found, but we look for him in the Orthodox practice of Catholicism. But is that enough? Is it enough to be Catholics who are ever more right in their practice? If we aren't growing ever more good in our lives to those who seek the Lord for meaning and purpose and love in their lives?
I direct you to the very next verse in Isaiah. This is Isaiah 55 verse seven. Let the wicked forsake their way and sinners their thoughts. You see, it's not enough to seek the Lord in order to make him a companion in your life. Jesus wants to be in your life, but he wants to be in your life as your king, as your savior, and as the master of your life, not merely as your life companion.
To truly seek the Lord, we must change our lives, forsake our worldly ways, and turn away from sin and be faithful to the whole gospel, not to pieces of it. We have to purify our actions and we have to purify our minds. Accepting the Lord's niceness is not enough. Being nicer to others is not enough. What God wants from us is so much more than that. He wants us to change our lives and become more like Jesus, and Jesus wasn't loved because he was nice.
He was loved because he was good. He wasn't despised by some of the Jews for being nice. He was despised because he was good and he wasn't crucified because he was nice. Either he was crucified because he was good, goodness and holiness. Those are the true forces and powers that challenge and change the world. Starting with ourselves to my brothers and sisters who are more experienced in the faith and believers in God, as well as in the majesty and preeminence of Christ's church, I offer another passage from scripture.
This comes from Colossians chapter three, verses one and two. If you have been raised with Christ, then seek the things that are above where Christ is. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. You see, it's not enough to be a right Catholic or even a good Catholic. We must be Catholics who are good. We have to grow in holiness and be ever more perfectly and embodiment of goodness and holiness in the world. We have to become a source of charity and mercy in the world.
We have to be the voice of truth and the example of justice in the world, not just talkers about justice. How do we seek the Lord? How does somebody do that? Well, scripture and the church teach us that seeking the Lord doesn't involve our physical eyes at all. It involves our spiritual eyes, our minds, and our hearts.
That's what St. Paul was talking about in Colossians, and it's something we see repeatedly in some form or another throughout scripture. It's not about finding God strictly in the physical things such as a Bible or in a church. It also requires that we direct our minds and our hearts to God and his will. It requires that we change our lives by coming to a deeper understanding of the example of what our lives should be like. We do that by elevating our spiritual senses to heaven and observing the character of God through that lens, in the same way that a child will reflect the tone and the mannerisms and the behavior of their parents by observing them.
Over time, we begin to mirror the character of God. The longer we observe him, the longer we turn our hearts and minds to him. Is it enough that we are merely good Catholics? Is it enough that we seek the Lord only for companionship? Is it enough that we
Seek the Lord for an example of niceness? Well, the key to that answer is very simple. Can you compare yourself to any one of the saints? No. Then change. May God be with you all.