When my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, we appearedto be perfectly ordinary children. But in fact we suffered from an invisibleimpairment that caused our parents no end of frustration. All eight of us,it seems, were afflicted with a congenital inability to find things.
The disorder manifested itself in any number of ways. We couldn’tfind our homework, our bicycles, our shoes — anything that wasn’tactually attached to us. One of the first complete sentences that a childin the Gordon household learned to say was, “I can’t find it.”
The problem was particularly obvious when our parents asked us tolook for something they had misplaced. It’s not that we were unwilling tohelp. We would diligently search the house from top to bottom. But nomatter how long or how hard we looked, we never found the missingobject. What was lost, stayed lost, until one of my parents found it.
The same held true when one of us was sent to get something fromanother room. The child of whom the request was made would go off tothe room that was indicated, and conduct a search. Then, after anappropriate interval, would come the inevitable cry, “I can’t find it,” orperhaps, “It’s not there.”
The accuracy and detail of the directions given were irrelevant. Mymother might say, “Go up stairs and open the second drawer of yourFather’s dresser. On the left hand side of the drawer you will see a stackof handkerchiefs. At the bottom of the stack of handkerchiefs you willfind the extra set of car keys. Bring them to me.” The child wouldconfidently set off on this well-defined mission, but a couple of minuteslater the customary call would be shouted down the stairs, “They’re notthere!”
Then would come the amazing part. My mother, with a distinctnote of frustration in her voice would say, “Stay right there, I’m comingup.” She would stop what she was doing, walk up the stairs and over tothe dresser drawer, look under the handkerchiefs, and, as if by magic, thekeys would appear! It was as if they materialized out of thin air. Notelevision conjurer could hold a candle to my Mom. Then she would say,”Look. What did I tell you. They are right there in front of your face.”
The moral of the story is, the thing you are desperately searchingfor is often right there in front of you, if you could only see it.
Our readings today make a similar point. The prophet Zechariahsays of the people of Jerusalem, “They will look on him that they havethrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an onlyson. . .” Christians apply Zechariah’s words to Jesus Christ. Jesus hadbeen teaching right there in Jerusalem all along, but only after his Passiondid people receive the grace they needed to finally see him as he really is– only then did they realize that he is the Savior for whom they had beensearching.
And in our Gospel, in a moment of staggering insight, Peterrecognizes that this Jesus with whom he has been spending every wakinghour, is the very Messiah of God.
Time and again in our lives we need to make the same discovery.Each of us will go to Mass this Sunday with important questions. Thosequestions may vary at different times in our lives. But human life by itsnature is a search for answers — a quest for meaning. Our Christianconviction is that Christ is the answer to those questions. And especiallyin the Eucharist we will celebrate, that answer will be right there in frontof our faces. If we can only see. Meanwhile, the Church is like ourmother, assuring us of the reality of what we sometimes fail to perceive,and nurturing and sustaining us until the day comes when we reveal thepresence of Christ to others.
Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.”