On Not Seeking Christ in a Crowd

Lent 2014: Readings from Augustine

The man who was healed did not know who he was” from whom he heard this. For Jesus when he had done this and commanded this, “turned from him into the crowd” (Jn 5:13). See how this too is fulfilled. We carry our neighbor and we walk toward God, but we do not yet see the one toward whom we are walking: that’s why that man too did not yet know Jesus. A mystery is taught to us because we believe in one whom we do not see, who, not to be seen, turns away into the crowd. It’s difficult to see Christ in a crowd; a certain solitude is necessary to our minds; God is seen by a certain solitude of attention. A crowd is noisy; that vision requires secrecy. “Take up your cot”: you who have been carried, carry your neighbor, and walk so that you may arrive. Don’t seek Jesus in a crowd; he’s not like someone in a crowd; he exceeds any crowd. That great fish first ascended out of the sea and is seated in heaven, interceding for us. Like the high priest, he entered alone into the inner veil; the crowd stands outside. You, who are carrying your brother, walk, if , that is, you who used to be carried have learned to carry. Finally, if you don’t yet know Jesus, don’t yet see Jesus, what follows after? Because he did not cease carrying his cot and walking. “Later he saw Jesus in the temple.” He didn’t see him in the crowd, but did see him in the temple. The Lord Jesus saw him both in the crowd and in the temple; but that sick man did not recognize him in the crowd but did recognize him in the temple. So he did reach the Lord; he saw him in the temple, he saw him in a sacred place, in a holy place. (In Ioannem 17, 11; PL 35, 1533)

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That great fish first ascended out of the sea and is seated in heaven, interceding for us.

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About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.