Someone to Watch over Me
In the Gospel According to John, Mary of Magdela is standing at the tomb when angels ask her why she is weeping. She answers that someone – “they” – have taken “my Lord away,” but I do not know where. She turns away from the angel and there he is, Jesus, only Mary does not recognize him and mistakes him for the gardener. Jesus asks her, “Who are you looking for?”
Who are you looking for, and is that not the perennial question? Who are you looking for? Someone who will love you unconditionally, someone who will never betray you as others have, someone who, as the song goes, to watch over [you]?
Religiously, we understand that someone to be God. Yet, we are still Mary, standing bewildered at the tomb, looking for a dead Jesus when he is in fact alive. Where are you?
When my kids were single-digit kids, we would read the wonderful book my godparents gave me when I was their age, Where’s Wallace? Similar to the later series, Where’s Waldo?, the book included a series of panels that tucked the orangutang Wallace neatly into busy scenes, and my children would look and look to find him. I would also look, for even though I’d found Wallace in each panel a hundred times, he was a surprise each time. At the zoo, the circus, the park, the cityscape. Eventually one of my children would spot Wallace and exclaim, There he is! There’s Wallace! And, he would be, in plain sight yet cleverly discrete.
Seek and ye shall find, only, like Mary, what is it are you looking for? The kingdom of God?
The problem is, God and Jesus and kingdom are dangerous, vim full of vinegar, judgment and fire. God, too, is love, but love is fire, isn’t it? And who is it God loves? You? Me? The one who betraying me?
Indeed, Jesus does loves you, and God is love. And yes, love means judgment. Only, not to prove you wrong, but to welcome you in. To burn away fear and trepidation, not recreate them. To burn away intransigence and resistance, to open the way for welcome.
Somehow in this universe of religion, we like to think of ourselves as God-Seekers, that we ourselves choose to look for God in order to find grace, like Mary in the garden looking for Jesus. Only, Jesus found Mary, and not the other way around. God at Eden sought out and found the miscreant pair, not the other way around. They were hiding, but God walking in the cool of the day, looking, looking, looking for you, and me, to participate in that grand and glorious love affair.
So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about – [she] is looking for us. – Simon Tugwell.
God is constantly looking for us, constantly looking high and low, seeking, seeking, seeking ….