June 2000How tenderly You swell my heart with love....   St. John of the Cross

Three Longings

This is one of our favorite projects. Every year, in late spring or early summer, we give ourselves a retreat, the presenter for each day being one of our Sisters. Naturally, we hope that the effects of this retreat will last until the next retreat in autumn.

In this pondering, I would like to share with you one of the reflections. The source for this particular presentation was actually a sophisticated expression called "Searching Christology," a term used by Karl Rahner S.J..(*)

In the discussion, Fr. Rahner refers to the three deep and basic longings of every human being, regardless of their religious tradition:

1. Everyone longs to love another human being, fully and completely, and to be loved, in return, in the same manner.

2. Everyone longs to face death with the confidence that they will fall into the arms of a loving and gracious God.

3. Everyone longs to see realized that, in spite of evil and injustice, and the sufferings and struggles in this life, good is victorious and possible.

One, who admits to these three longings, also admits to the need of a Savior.

Recently, I shared the latter with a friend. She stated that she, personally, did not feel the need of a Savior as much as she felt the need of a Comforter, a Guide, a Companion. This response set the rest of us pondering our deepest need and longing.

Is our deepest need that of a healer, a restorer of peace of mind, someone who will help us put it all together? Or is the need that of someone who will help us repair a relationship, someone who will teach us friendship, someone who will bring us a sense of self worth? Then too, we may feel the need of having someone lift and take away our fears and anxieties. The Dutch theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., states that the main message of the Gospel is, "Do not be afraid."

Is there a Someone? Christian teaching holds that these longings and needs are answered in the Incarnate One of God, who became one with us and remains with us. Jesus was a Paraclete, who promised to send another Paraclete, who would never go away. Fr. Schillebeeckx also writes that it all began with an encounter. And, this encounter was meant to continue.

* Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith (New York: Seabury Press, 1978) pp.295-296.

Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.