Last year, The Shepherd on a Search was all the rage. Touted as a Christian-based answer to the Elf on the Shelf, the premise seemed to follow one of the shepherd children on a search for the newly born Babe in a manger. While my family participates in “Elf on the Shelf,” – to the extent of moving said creature nightly – I never thought about participating in The Shepherd on a Search. The elf took enough brainpower to remember to move!
This past year, I didn’t see much about The Shepherd on a Search. I also didn’t see many posts about Wise Men traveling to the nativity set in homes, as their movement toward the nativity is similar to that of the shepherd.
However, this time of year inevitably leads all of us to embark upon our own quest for a deeper relationship with the Babe, turned Man, in the manger. During the Christmas season, the Church readings remind us of the Christ Child’s lineage, His mother’s fiat, and the Holy Family’s. Days later, the tragic fate of the Holy Innocents, whose martyrdom serves as a clear reminder of the hunt for Jesus from the time of His birth. We are reminded of the safety, security, and love of the members of the Holy Family, which provides the perfect example of safety, security, and love to emulate in our own homes and families. Lent is a time in which we reflect on the Man the Babe grew to be – the One who would prepare for and ultimately sacrifice His life, for all of us.
Which leads me to ask, what about our own search for Jesus? During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and the inevitable exhaustion of post-holiday euphoria, where do we go to find Jesus in our hearts?
Where do we go to find Jesus in our homes?
- in the stillness of the early morning, before the rest of the household awakes?
- when the house winds down, the lights are off, and the house is tucked into bed?
- in the middle of the day, amidst the hectic pace life finds us scurrying?
- that we find Jesus in the smallest or most inconvenient times of the day when we look to the heavens and ask why?
Everyone’s search for Jesus is as unique and individual as our fingerprints. No two searches are the same, although many times there are similar features and themes throughout the journey. We can pretty much be guaranteed there will be peaks. Where we experience the glow of love, shining as radiantly as the sun on a warm summer day. There will also be valleys, in which we feel a void, a chasm of silence in our souls. We will turn and wonder why, or wonder if we are truly alone.
Yet, all of our experiences are meant to do what the star did for the shepherd and the wise men centuries ago – our experiences are meant to draw us closer to our Savior!
Jesus was not born imposing Himself on us. In fact, even before His death, He gave those who doubted Him an opportunity to walk away during the Last Supper. He doesn’t force Himself on any of us!
Instead, He awaits our journey to Him with open arms. Gently, He calls to us. Patiently, He travels with us, waiting for us to recognize and acknowledge Him.
And, when our travel to Him is complete, He openly embraces us.
Lent is the perfect time for us to assess our individual quest to Jesus. It’s the perfect time to consider how close we are desiring to get to Him. We desire to see Him face to face the way the wise men did centuries ago. If there is something holding us back from desiring that intimate, we should seek the close relationship He offers.
Where are we on our journey?
What help do we need to move forward?
How can we help others along their travel?
Where will each of us find Jesus during Lent 2018?
AnnAliese is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris and mother to their two young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. Since the birth of her children, she has dedicated her time to volunteering with Army Community Services and several military chapel communities. As a cradle-Catholic, AnnAliese has been active in the Church since she was a child. As an adult, she has spent time serving as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She also blogs about topics of Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. You can also follow her on Twitter @BeautifulCamoMe, on Instagram at beautifulcamouflagedmess, or on Facebook at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life.