Seeking and Finding God amongst other gods
Some years ago when visiting Athens, I made sure that I made my way to the Areopagus. In this place St Paul sought to speak to the men of that city about the ‘unknown God’ whose altar he had come across in a polis which is said to have worshipped about 30,000 different gods.
It isn’t much different in today’s world. Like the Athenians of that time, man has an innate desire for God given to Him by God Himself. Some people acknowledge it and others do not. Yet interiorly we all seek to fulfill our longing for God, for purpose, for satisfaction, albeit often in the wrong ways: many ‘gods’ attract and gain our attention and devotion.
And even though many people are religious, just as the people of Athens were, their inner search does not necessarily lead them to an authentic encounter with the Risen Christ. Often it is only after the disappointment experienced after having tired to satisfy our spiritual thirst in various other ways, are we ready for a deeper encounter with the Lord which He Himself initiates. We know that our attachments to success, wealth, addictions of all sorts, even human relationships have left us dissatisfied. Then maybe we are ready to listen to the voice of God who draws our hearts to Himself.
However because we have grown used to seeking to appease our inner quest for love and truth in things other an interior relationship with God, we are unsure how to look for Him directly. We are also reluctant and afraid to depose our false gods from their thrones. We may be afraid to quieten our hearts and listen. At this point some may even be tempted to give up the pursuit or settle down for a mere external expression of religious worship. But the Word of God itself tells us that God’s plan and desire is
‘that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
This God is in a sense ‘hidden’ though evidence of His existence is all around us. Yet He promises that eternal life consists in knowing Him, experiencing His love and His truth and entrusting our lives to Him in obedience. (see John 17:3) He tells us in very clear words: You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jer 29:13)
Although this seeking and finding is personal and interior it is in no way a lone journey. We need to be part of the Christian community, the Church and to participate in communal prayer and to listen to the Word being shared. Whether gradually or in a moment of enlightenment, with perseverance and help from others, we can all come to the point where we can really say: Lord,I have experienced what the other ‘gods’ have to offer, but you are truly my heart’s desire. In this vast Areopagus of false gods I choose you above all for only you satisfy.’