Life is a journey that we begin to walk from the moment of our birth, inexorably bringing us towards our destination. Its drama will never show up on a stage or screen, but it is watched with more interest than any movie by the everlasting author behind the curtain of Heaven, and with more tenderness than any father has ever beheld his little boy or girl. This is a story of a young man who searched for God... and didn’t find him.
Fr. John Powell, professor at Loyola University in Chicago, watched his students file in one by one on the first day of his Theology of Faith class. His eyes stared hard at Tommy, who was combing the long hair that hung well below his shoulders. “Strange”, he thought, “Very strange”.
Tommy was a declared atheist and never refrained from protesting against the existence of a God who is an unconditionally loving Father. He wasn’t easy to live with, but the semester passed, and the course ended.
As he approached to hand in the final exam, he asked rather cynically, “Do you think I will ever find God?” Fr. John decided to shake him up a little and responded emphatically “No!”
“Why not?”, he responded. “I thought that was the product you were pushing?”
“Tommy, I don’t think you will ever find God, but I am absolutely sure that he will find you.”
Tommy didn’t respond to that, and walked out of the classroom. Fr. John didn’t see Tommy again for a while.
The next time he ran into him, Tommy had lost a lot of weight and all of his hair: he had cancer. But even though he was physically wasted, for the first time his voice sounded firm and his eyes had a particular gleam in them.
“Tommy, I heard you were sick and I’ve been thinking a lot about you.”
“Yeah, I have cancer in both lungs. It’s only a matter of weeks.”
“Can you talk about it?”
“Yeah, what do you want to know?”
“What’s it like to be twenty-four and dying?”
“Well, it could be worse.”
“Like being fifty and thinking that sex, drinking and money were the only values in life. But what I really came to see you about,” Tom said, “is something you said to me on the last day of class.”
“I asked you if you thought I would ever find God, and you said, 'No!' That really surprised me. Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.”
To be continued. Part 2 will appear in next week’s edition of Good News.
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