At what point in your life did you feel most strongly the presence of God? Have you ever felt God actively guiding you, the events and direction of your life? Have you ever wondered what your true and divine calling is in life? There are times in life when we can clearly feel and see God’s presence in our lives. But there are also times when facing a tragedy, chaos or a major decision, we turn to God and search for his guidance and presence, but can’t find him, can’t hear his voice and feel his presence. What do we do in such moments and how can we discern his voice and guidance in our lives?
All three synoptic Evangelists – Matthew, Mark and Luke, start their Gospel narratives from a specific time and place in history and in the life of Jesus Christ. They start their Gospel narrative from the incarnation of Christ. Today’s Scripture reading from the Gospel of St. John, chapter one, where we see that he starts his Gospel from a very different point in time. He starts from the beginning of times, from the story of creation and even before there was a time. St. John starts his Gospel from the very heart of God. He starts with the most profound proclamation of faith and sentence ever written by a human being by stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). St. John’s prologue is the most beautiful reminder for the faithful that the transcendent and omnipotent God’s presence extends far beyond our conventional understanding and definition of reality, time and space. It is as if the Gospel of St. John invites us to look for God beyond the horizon of here and now, search for and recognize the presence and voice of God in our past.
As human beings, we carry within ourselves the image and likeness of God. Our souls covet and thirst for his presence and rely on his healing and restoring touch like the air we breathe and water we drink. Without him in our lives, our souls, joy and peace wither and fade. This becomes very obvious and hard to cope with in decisive and challenging moments of life when we turn to God for guidance, answers, healing and hope.
The Church encourages us to revive and nurture the divine presence in our lives through a life of daily prayer, reading of the Holy Bible, acts of faith and love, participation in the liturgical life of our church, fasting, confession, communing to his life-giving Body and Blood, learning and reflection. Sometimes it is also very helpful to look for God, his guidance and voice in our past.
There is no past, present or future for God. He is equally present and active in our past as in our present and future. At the beginning of the sermon, I asked you to recall moments when you felt his presence in your lives. Cherish those memories and moments, go back to them often and regularly, discern and reflect what was God trying to show you and where He was leading and guiding you.
There is a power, healing and holiness in the past. In fact, the church continuously invites us to look back to the past. We read, study and are comforted by Biblical stories that took place thousands of years ago. We celebrate events from the life of our Lord that took place in the past. We learn from the lives and writings of the Church Fathers and saints who lived centuries ago.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, when life does not make sense, look back for meaning and insight. When you can’t hear his voice and find the answer to your prayers, look for them in your past. When you can’t feel the guidance of the Lord in the events of your present life, look for it in your past. More often than we realize and see, God answers our prayers before we ask him and He shows us the way before we are lost. He heals us before we are wounded, carries us before we fall and gives before we ask, to whom glory forever, amen.