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Looking for the missing piece

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

The practice of holding a scavenger hunt is still alive. It only takes a group of willing participants, a list of obtainable items and the motivation to participate. Typically held outdoors, and in the broader neighborhood, the hunters are asked to collect all sort of mundane items; from a cardboard toilet paper insert, a grape, or even some shedded cat fur. At no time are they to steal any of the items, or are they to be obtained from personal stores.

Even with the pandemic, with the on and off again restrictions, creativity has risen to the fore. Housebound families have conducted treasure hunts within their confines, delighting the children and lightening the malaise of such close quarters.

Given the list, teams of two are usually formed, with some of the items easy to find and others more difficult. The winners are the first team who collected the most items and does it in the shortest amount of time. In the initial stages, there is great fury, which soon devolves into serious thought about the pursuit. In the later stages, furrows in the brow may be seen, as the item’s rarity becomes obvious. “Let’s see, who has a cat that sheds and is willing to give us some hair? How about looking in their garbage can?”

Let’s say, after diligent searching, a team has found everything but two items, There are burgeoning doubts about ever finding these last two. Besides, time is growing short and the other teams seemed pretty sharp. The inevitable question is asked, “Should we look for another?” Imagine the disappointment when they decide to end their pursuits and return to the rally point; only to discover another team, arriving only a few minutes later, had found one of the two missing items. Yes, it was the cat hair.

Our lives are not far distance to a scavenger hunt. We too are looking for items on our “List of Life.” In our youthful days it is fairly basic, but becomes more complicated as we age. No longer content with a plastic model car, we seek the real thing. No longer content with living with our parents, we seek the freedom of renting, or purchasing, our own abode.

Each carries a significant weight to our pocketbooks and our responsibilities. Given our consumer culture, other responsibilities may accumulate. Part of this quest is the question, “Should we look for another?” Here, the inference is that what we possess is, somehow inadequate for our needs. The car is getting older, or the house needs updating, or is too small, or the job doesn’t pay enough.

Saint Luke gives us the answer. In his Gospel, he relays a succinct response to this very question. Even after the witness of John the Baptist, two of the disciples were unsure about the divinity of Christ. Thus, the question, “Should we look for another?” Rather than continue to teach them, in essence he replied, “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

It was an easy thing to do, as He was in their midst. Before our Lord answered their question, He spent time in healing the halt, the maimed and the diseased. Certainly, no amount of conversation was required. Knowing these disciples, as our Savior knows us, Jesus said, “Go your way and tell John what you have seen and heard.” We can be sure that their report dispelled any doubts. As the scavenger hunt, we too may ask questions of our faith, “Should we look for another?” After all, did not Christ say the return was soon? We have waited for over two millennia, seen wars, pestilence and numerable injustices.

Yet, miracles are all around us; it is only humankind which chooses to obscure this reality. An impatient lot, we Christians only have to have faith to answer the question.