What to do with our Curiosity

Luke 9:7-9

In the Gospel, Herod the tetrarch appears as "very curious" to see Jesus.  By now, he's heard a lot about this miracle worker from Nazareth. He knows that there's something special about him. If we think about it, Herod could probably be compared to people who flock to healing services today looking for miracles, but not for Jesus. When Herod finally meets Jesus, the encounter does not appear to change him.  When we have curiosity about our faith, what do we do about it?

 

The answer comes forth in the first reading. Everything that is not of heaven is only temporary. In the long view of eternity, anything that has no lasting value is meaningless, worthless, and we hold onto it in vain (we might recall the example of the second tunic) When we focus on what is temporal, when we base our values on worldly standards, and when we strive only for a more comfortable, easy life here on earth, we cannot see who Jesus really is, we can’t understand his teachings, and the cross seems like nothing more than a torturous tool that was used in a story long ago.

 

We are all creatures of curiosity. We get excited over miraculous things, and new discoveries fascinate us, but if they don't enhance our relationship with Christ, they only benefit our lives for a short time.

 

Last week I made a rare trip to the mall to visit the Apple Store to get a problem fixed. I was having trouble syncing my phone to my laptop. The Apple Store was, as it always is, packed, and most everyone there was a millennial.  There was so much energy in the room, giving evidence of the curiosity on the part of these young folks wanting to hear about and get the latest smartphone or other technology item.

 

The functionality of these latest devices, as we know are endless. We can take pictures with their high quality lenses, and then enhance the pictures by editing before transmitting them instantaneously to someone in another part of the world. We can play games on them, store recipes on them, regulate the temperature in, or lock the doors of our house.

 

But as I stood there waiting to have one of their service “genius’” as they call them, visit with me to fix my problem, I thought to myself, what is behind everyone’s curiosity about these gadgets? It’s kind of like social media. Any kind of technology can be life giving if used properly, but to be absorbed in it out of pure fascination or personal comfort doesn’t benefit others or advance God’s kingdom here on earth.

I think frequently about the common belief of young people that us folks of a mature age don’t know how to use technology. If you want to know how to figure out how to use an app on your cell phone, ask a young person. And there’s almost a dismissiveness on the part of some young people that older people are too stupid to figure it all out.

 

Well, there’s a flip side to all that.  Maybe the truth is that with age comes wisdom. Maybe at a certain age we come to the realization that fascination over the latest, greatest gadget is, in truth, not worth the investment of time to learn.  Why?  Because it is temporal. What is eternal is the use of that phone to call someone who is hurting, who needs to hear a friendly voice, who needs to be assured of their value.

 

Spiritual discoveries - they benefit us. In the Gospel, Herod’s curiosity was misplaced. He didn’t want to know Jesus where it mattered, in his spirit. He did not want God's touch to change him.

 

Even our experiences of what appears on the surface to be church can be hollow. We can go on pilgrimages and tours to holy places. We can attend up-lifting conferences and church events to get mountaintop experiences, but those experiences can be temporary. The mountaintop brings us closer to God, but the time spent there is wasted unless we're changed by it, a change that is evidenced by how we are while in the valley.

 

Our problems are temporary, too, including those that seem unending. Health issues, financial issues, Church issues can seem insurmountable. (Oh, church is never going to be the same after October 15). But if in our sufferings, we don’t call upon Jesus for his healing, any relief we get from a resolution from any other source is temporary and vain.

 

For our lives to be filled with lasting value, we have to be curious about what Jesus wants to do in our spirits. Our excitement must be based on the changes that will bless the kingdom of God forever.

 

And so we pray, Dear Lord, help us to assess our motivations. Help us be more purposeful in our practice of faith. Steer us away from the temporal and point us to the eternal, and help us help you in steering our youth in a similar fashion. Form us in your truth and in your ways. Change our hearts, and help guide us to the path that you wish to take us.

 

Amen!

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