Dear friends, I wonder if, at any point in your life, you’ve ever become lost. It can be a stressful and frightening experience, especially when it’s dark. I remember a few years ago, travelling abroad with a friend. We were in a hire car trying to find our way out of a city. We drove round and round, passing the same buildings over and over again, looking for the right road to take us where we wanted to go. We got there eventually, but only after numerous attempts and a few cross words.
It’s no joke to be lost physically. But it’s also no fun to be lost spiritually. We can be lost, as it were, on the outside in terms of location and geography. But we can also be lost on the inside, in terms of our sense of self, and of the meaning and purpose of our life.
Even we who follow Christ can become spiritually lost or disorientated. Whether in our day to day ups and downs, or in life’s greater dramas, we can go round in circles, not being able to see the way forward or find the way back. There’s seemingly no escape.
St John of the Cross once wrote that if a person is seeking God, then God is already seeking that person much more. But it doesn’t always feel like this. Sometimes we feel spiritually lost; lost to ourselves and lost even to the Lord. We forget that we have been found by God in Christ and that He will never lose us.
This is why today’s Scripture readings are so important. And if you’re feeling a little spiritually lost at the moment, then they’re words from God especially for you.
St Peter lays before us the most amazing affirmation of who we are through our baptism: ‘You,’ he says – and this is you and me, here and now – ‘You are a chosen race; You are a royal priesthood; You are a consecrated nation; You are a people set apart to sing the praise of God who called you out of darkness into God’s wonderful light.’
Like honey into bread, just let these words sink in to your heart: ‘You are a chosen race; You are a royal priesthood; You are a consecrated nation; You are a people set apart to sing God’s praises. You are called out from darkness into God’s wonderful light.’
Hearing these words is like having a mirror held up in front of us. They are reflecting back the truth of who we are and they are so beautiful, just like we are in God’s eyes.
Whoever we are, whatever is happening, we are never lost to God. Our fundamental identity, our whereabouts in the world and in the kingdom, comes from Christ. We are not incidental gravel just strewn along life’s roadside. We are ‘living stones’ who are being ‘built up into a spiritual house.’ And the foundation of that spiritual house, the precious cornerstone, the vital keystone of that spiritual house, is Christ. We are built on Him. We are joined and connected to Him – ‘through Him, with Him, and in Him.’
Dear friends, we belong to someone. We belong to Christ. And we belong to something. We belong to His body, the Church. Pope Francis once said that every disciple has two names. Their first name is ‘I am a Christian.’ And their second name is ‘I belong to the Church.’[i] To know to whom and where we belong is the antidote to being spiritually lost.
Our identity and security come from sharing the priestly, prophetic, and royal mission of Christ. But what does this mean? Put simply, it means this.
- To share Christ’s priestly mission is to participate in the holiness of His life.
- To share Christ’s prophetic mission is to give witness to the power of His truth.
- To share Christ’s royal mission is to live according to His Way.
Sharing Christ’s life; sharing Christ’s truth; sharing Christ’s way: this is the map that stops us getting lost. These are the coordinates for navigating life. Our discipleship is not directed remotely by some external divine sat nav. It can only be lived from the inside out. The source of our journey forward is our inner friendship with Christ, guided by the Church and nourished by Word and Sacrament.
When St Thomas asked the Lord Jesus how he could follow Him to the Father’s house, our Lord replied ‘Thomas, if you want to find the way to the Father’s house, then follow me.’ Why? Because says the Lord Jesus, ‘I am the Way.’ – ‘And more than this, I am the Truth and I am the Life.’
Ours is the way of the kingdom, sharing Christ’s royal mission. Ours is a witness to truth, sharing Christ’s prophetic mission. Ours is the life of holiness, sharing Christ’s priestly mission.
If we feel a sense of loss, either around us, or within us; when we sense that something is missing humanly or spiritually, we come close to Christ. And if we need some words to pray, perhaps we can take George Herbert’s poem ‘The Call’:
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life;
Such a Way as gives us breath,
Such a Truth as ends all strife,
Such a Life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength;
Such a Light as shows a Feast,
Such a Feast as mends in length,
Such a Strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart;
Such a Joy as none can move,
Such a Love as none can part,
Such a Heart as joys in love.
In Christ we find our identity and our security. In Christ there are no orphans or rejects, no one is lost beyond mercy or excluded from hope. In Christ we have access to the Father’s house, to the Father’s heart, to our true home.
[i] General Audience, 25 June 2014