Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
In these past days following the celebration of Christmas, the Church has reminded us that we human beings are creatures of longing; specifically, creatures that long for God. It is on Christmas that we receive the Christ Child, God’s plan to fulfill our deepest desires. In Christ we receive our Bread, our treasure, our light and life; we see God with our eyes and hear His voice; we are loved by God and come to love Him, caught up in the very love of the Trinity. Now fed, now rich, now illuminated and alive, we come to the final desire of every heart that comes to love another and that is this: to dwell with the beloved, to know and to be known.
In other words, every lover desires to belong utterly to the beloved. Christ shares this precise sentiment at the Last Supper when He prays, “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me…” (Jn. 17:24) Christ longs to possess us, to take us to Himself for all eternity. He knows the longing of our hearts, recognizing it in John’s disciples when they ask where He is staying. He does not give them an address but rather invites them to be where He is, as He invites all of us.
Mere proximity will not satisfy this desire to belong to God; something in us must be transformed. Lovers often, as we know, have names for each other, names only they know and use; a wife takes her husband’s name when she weds, and likewise most religious take a new name when making their vows. Parents, too, name their children at birth. In all these instances there is a change in the reality of the person: they no longer belong to themselves, but to their beloved. See how in today’s Gospel Jesus does to Peter what Adam did to each of the animals, thereby showing his mastery over them. Today the New Adam, seeking to rule over all mankind by love, gives a man named Simon the new name of Peter, later calling him to be an apostle with the express purpose of “being with Him” (Mk. 3:14).
In Baptism Jesus calls each of us by name so that we might be with Him, belonging entirely to Him just as He, through the Incarnation—and today through the Eucharist—belongs totally to us. As you seek the fulfillment of your every desire in Him, do not be afraid to take this final leap, to lay bare the most vulnerable corner of your heart to His affection, to surrender your whole self in love to Him. Our deepest desire is for Heaven; Jesus has come among us so that we need not wait until death to begin. “Love is patient…” Paul writes, but the time for waiting has ended; it is time to come…and see.