John and Andrew, two average guys living in Palestine two thousand years ago, went to the Jordan River to hear the teaching of John the Baptist, whom many considered a prophet. That day, however, an unexpected event changed their plans. While they were there, they had another encounter: the one with Jesus. A man who, at first glance, might have seemed like everyone else, but spending time with him that day made it clear that he was not like everyone else. Jesus asked them a question: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38).
Pope Francis asked us the same thing, saying, “Be sure: God trusts in you; He loves you and He calls to you. I ask you the question that one day He asked the first disciples: ‘What are you seeking?’ (Jn 1:38). I too, in this moment, ask each one of you a question: ‘What are you seeking? You, what are you seeking in your life?’” (Pre-Synodal Meeting With Young People, Rome, March 19, 2018).
They had never heard that simple question addressed with such intensity. They had to look deep into their hearts to find an answer.
That day on the Jordan was the beginning of an unexpected friendship between John and Andrew and Jesus, one destined to radically change their lives. His gaze, His words and His gestures were, in fact, not only capable of illuminating life in all its depth, but also, over time, of revealing something unimaginable: that He Himself was the answer to their hearts’ questioning.
That friendship was the beginning of a new reality within history. To those friends, Jesus, the Son of God made man, gave his whole life through the sacrifice of Easter, making this great promise: “Whoever follows me will have eternal life and a hundred-fold here below” (cf. Mt 19:29).
Entrusted to the paternal care of the Apostle Peter, and of his successors, this newness of life made its way across the centuries all the way to today, becoming credible and fascinating for us through the charism given to Fr. Giussani, the centenary of whose birth we celebrate this year. That friendship is the companionship of the Church, the place in which we can still be surprised today by that newness of life that conquers death, that “message of Jesus [that] has taken root in the fiber of history” (Why the Church?, p. 231).
To continue to be helped in the adventure of life and to deepen the beauty of our friendship, we enthusiastically accept the invitation Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, extended to us. It is the same Jesus asking us today, “What are you looking for?”
Let us go to Rome, then, on Easter Monday, curious to discover what the Lord would like to suggest to us and full of the desire to once again verify the reasonableness of the hope we have encountered.
Davide Prosperi, Francesco Barberis and Fr. Marcello Brambilla