Mar 25, 2017

Fourth Week of Lent


The trouble with headlines is that a headline is not in itself "the story"! A headline does not capture the event. The headline is just an attention grabber: "Man born blind can now see!", "Miracle worker does it again!", "Drama unfolds at the temple", "Renegade Rabbi mocks Religious Leaders", "Eyesight Restored to Blind Man denied healthcare by Pharisees".


It's not even a complete summary of an event. If we wanted to understand a story we would have to see it from every angle, from every perspective - we would have enter into the mind, heart and soul of every individual present, from the main characters involved, every witness present, every passerby, even everyone on the sidelines. And then added to that, our limitations of memory, the coloring of conjecture and the stain of prejudice. Everyone can tell a story from their own individual perspective.


But even if we could throw everyone's "10 cents" into a crockpot or program it into a 3D printer, would it recreate the event that actually occurred? Could we participate once again in the actual drama that unfolded yesterday, last week, ten years ago, two thousand years ago?


Or would we, once again, have to rely on bits and pieces of text messages, a quick photograph that captures just one millisecond frozen in time and then try, like a CSI investigator, to recreate the event? Even if we could, it might take hundreds of thousands of painstaking hours threading everything together just to "simulate" the outwards appearances of a few minutes that passed by on its way to God Know Where!


My point here, is not to necessarily, to lead you down a philosophical rabbit hole into a matrix. (If you would like to venture that direction, read Owen Barfield's Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry). Instead, after listening to the Gospel proclaimed today, I wish to highlight only the first line of the Gospel, "As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth".


Before everyone else started jumping to conclusions about this nameless individual, putting labels on him, pushing him into a corner, writing him off, or putting him on a stand or pedestal, Our Lord, as He was passing by, saw him first.


I would happily conclude the reading of this long portion of Scripture with only this first opening line.  That, in itself, is the story - that is the event - He was passing by, no doubt with hundreds of people coming at Him from every perspective, every angle, every direction - passing by on the road, in the middle of the greyhound bus station, in the busy church piazza, in the shopping mall, at the street corner, in the crowded classroom, in the throngs of people coming and going - as He was passing by, in this event, Christ saw the blind man first. No one else did. He did. The eyes of God saw what no one else did.


Not only does Christ know what He sees, He knows who He sees. He knows his name, his address, his family, his upbringing, he knows his whole family, his parents, his doctors, his friends, his suffering, his hopes, his joys and his hardships. Christ sees through it all to the soul, the anguish of broken relationships, the fear of being left alone in the dark, the hungry faith that cries out to heaven in hope of a better tomorrow.  That's the event that the eyes of God sees what no one else did. There is a line from the First Reading that captures it all, "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart." 

We, on the other hand, often just jump to conclusions, play to the crowd, debate about who's right and who's wrong, organize discussion and action groups and committees, write long articles for and against, and preach lengthy sermons (sorry!)


We are the proud, rising up against the proud when we are all blind beggars sweeping the road, living in our own darkness.


But the Good News, (but maybe it is bad news for some who are so entrenched in a world of black and white) is that Christ can see in the dark as well as in the light. Christ can even see every color that is invisible to us - He can see you and me in all our God-given dignity, beauty and loveliness.


So what must we do to see what Christ see, so that we can enter into the event of salvation? Christ told the blind beggar, He told you and me, to wash our eyes. How can we do that, and with what? 

Water is the most humble element of God's creation, and the most powerful. The Sacrament of Confession renews the purity of the humble water of our baptism that, too often, we have allowed to become turkey and dark. The Sacrament of Confession cleanses the water, washes the lens of our soul, so that we can clearly see with all the power and clarity of the eyes of Christ. Only when we can see anew, only then can we offer this cleansing grace to a world often trapped in the maze of darkness and chaos.

So what is our soul's prayer? I want to see Christ face to face and see with His eyes. I want to see what He alone can see, the restoration of a new heaven and a new earth.  (cf. Dante's Paradiso 30:88-94)

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