Today is the second Sunday after Epiphany. We are right in the middle of the very first month of a brand-new year. I don’t know about you, but the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and then that first week of January is disorienting to me somehow. My kids are not in school, our office here at church is closed for a good while, and often, like this year, we are still traveling. As a result, I even struggle to know what day of the week it is. Everything feels sort of nebulous and vague, as if we are waiting for “normal life” to pick back up again. Whose bright idea then was it, to pick life altering resolutions that are supposed to lead to a better version of ourselves at this foggy time of year? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for resolutions to reach our highest good, I’m just saying that New Year’s Eve may not be the best time for it.
When making New Year’s resolutions we look for a way to improve ourselves, to be more fulfilled in our lives, to be healthier and happier. We look for this way, this new and improved version of ourselves, new year new me! But do we find what we are looking for? From my time as a personal trainer, I remember in the beginning of January, gyms filled to the brim and bursting at the seams, not a free cardio machine in sight. For about two or three weeks that is, then business went pretty much back to normal. I know from myself, I have made many high and lofty New Year’s resolutions over the years, they all fizzled out around this time of every January. Therefore, I am truly glad about our liturgical season of Epiphany. Starting with January 6th, after the confusing first week of the year, we are invited during this season to once again have Christ revealed to us. Just like we look for a way to reveal a better version of ourselves, Epiphany is about revelation.
New Year’s resolutions and Epiphany season share this same vibrant energy of fresh revelations. We look for Christ, the incarnated Christ that was revealed to the three magi still swaddled and nursed by Mary, and we look for Christ the teacher and messiah, the one whose way is so fresh, so intriguing, so irresistible, that men and women give up everything to follow him.
We meet this Christ at the very beginning of his ministry today. John the Baptist remembers that during Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit, like a dove, descended on Jesus and remained with him. He is the Son of God, the lamb of God, John proclaims. Two of John’s own disciples hear this and follow Jesus immediately. When they do, Jesus turns to them and asks this question: “What are you looking for?”
What are you looking for? This seemingly simple question, one that is quite natural to ask when someone starts walking after you, packs quite a punch. Because implied here is of course a spiritual search, a longing towards a fulfillment which is present, but not yet recognized. A longing towards a fulfillment which is present but not yet recognized. Now, our New Year’s resolutions maybe spiritual or not, but we are longing for a fulfillment which is present but not yet recognized. Whether we are looking to lead a healthier lifestyle or we are looking for a deeper relationship with God, both are possible and therefore their fulfillment is present while also not yet recognized.