GUESSING GAME

This homily, based on John 1:6-28, is for the Third Sunday of Advent.

What struck me about today’s Gospel passage is all the guessing game that seems to be going on.

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The people turn to John and ask him, “Are you the one?” And does the Baptist tell them? Not exactly. Here’s what he says:

“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”

as Isaiah the prophet said.”

Had I been in the crowd, would I have thrown up my hands in exasperation? Who knows? I might have cried out: ” Tell us already! Enough already of-this guessing game!”

But when you think about it, isnt this precisely the way God behaves? He doesn’t just appear to us and speak face-to-face in a language we can easily understand. He’s quite subtle and is far from self-evident, and we can find Him only when we seek Him.

The mystics tell us that Ours is a God who hides. Yes, Advent is the holy season of waiting–but the One we wait for, the One who has come and will come hides in plain sight. All the more reason we need to open wide our eyes and heart to recognize Him.

Meanwhile, here’s something I wrote recently that tells God how i feel about this divine subtlety of His. It’s a prayer that’s part complaint, part plea. Its called “Hard to Get,” and it is sung here by Marvin Ong, who also wrote the music. This is just the demo tape, but hope you like it.

HARD TO GET
(Music: M Ong | Lyrics: J Go SJ)

I
You play hard to get
But don’t you see
we’re not going great?
It’s not that easy to work things out
when so much is left unsaid.

II
We keep playing
these guessing games
Deciphering
your mysterious claims
Why don’t you break it down?
Let’s begin with “What’s your name?”

REFRAIN

Let’s not play
this hide and seek.
Let’s just dance
cheek to cheek
It’s time you drop this chase,
Emerge from your hiding place.
Won’t it be so cool
to finally see your face?

III
People pray hard to get you
But we can’t make
heads or tails of you
If we ask you to give us spoilers
we’ll just get another clue!

REFRAIN

Oh please don’t play
this hide and seek.
Why don’t we dance
cheek to cheek?
It’s time you drop this chase,
Emerge from your hiding place.
Won’t it be so cool
to finally see your face?

Coda

Don’t you see it’s not easy?
It’s a daily uphill climb
You can see eternity
but we’re stuck
in space and time

REFRAIN

Oh please don’t play
this hide and seek.
Let’s just dance
cheek to cheek?

It’s time you drop this chase,
Emerge from your hiding place.
Won’t it be so cool
to finally see you…
Won’t it be so cool
to finally see you…
Won’t it be so cool
to finally see your face?

Note: The song “Hard to Get” is one of the brand new songs featured in an upcoming original musical play to be produced by the Ateneo SALT Institute as a tribute to our first teachers–the aging and infirm Jesuits. If you want to pre-order the CD or make a donation to the production of this musical, please email:  alumnirelations@ateneo.edu

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8 thoughts on “GUESSING GAME”

  1. I think the reason for this guessing game is for us to keep seeking him. The mystery remains and for this reason we keep trying to understand him. In the process we get to know about life, we get to know about him and we get to loving him eventually living the way he lived on earth.

  2. He-the great Paradox! As in the Tagalog song “Umiiwas sa Pag-ibig” by J. Silos. Lyrics intriguing as in last line “Ang lihim ng Pag-ibig ay hindi mo malaman!” Ganyan Siya. The more you seek, the more He hides. But when you’re not watching, then WHAM! right between the eyes. Or as in the Hound of Heaven, the more you run away, the more He chases. Di ba?

  3. So, it’s not just that we are always and easily get distracted that’s why we fail to see Him. “He hides in plain sight.” But why?

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