Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our View and His

Samuel anointing David King
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Psalm 23:1-6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

***Readings are from Cycle A for the Scrutiny***

Some of you may be confused a little bit today at the color of my vestments, thinking that I apparently missed the memo that the color for Lent is Violet. The reason I am wearing these rose-colored vestments is that today is Laetare Sunday. The word ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’ and is the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass: Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all you who love her! On this day the Church invites us to rejoice in the Lord because we are halfway through the Lenten season. We come today and give thanks to the Lord for the graces poured out so generously upon us thus far, and we implore that continuous outpouring as we look forward to the solemn celebration to come in the Triduum and Easter, as our Collect so beautifully reminded us. And so we come with rejoicing in our hearts this day.

Another reason that we must come with rejoicing is because in just a few days we will hopefully have a new Pope. Each time I pray the Eucharistic Prayer and have to skip the name of the pope since we the Holy See is vacant I feel a sort of emptiness in my heart because I long to have a spiritual father in the person of Christ to help guide and direct me and all of us toward heaven. So, the fact that we will soon have a Holy Father again is another great reason to rejoice this day.

In light of that reality of Pope Benedict XVI resigning from the See of Peter and all of the questions about where the Church is going with the next pope, I have been hearing over and over the question ‘why?’ Secular and Catholic news sources alike have been filled with all sorts of questions around the events of the past month. As I was reflecting on our constant refrain of ‘why’ I began to contemplate how much we can do that in the midst of our lives. I don’t know about you, but often have I asked the question ‘why?’ when I was enduring some sort of trial. Too, I have experienced that ‘why?’ arise when someone receives a blessing when I thought they deserved otherwise, maybe because they had been so blessed already, or maybe someone else deserved it more. The lingering question of ‘why?’ would always be in the midst. The Scriptures today invite us to move beyond that.

The Lord spoke powerfully to Samuel in our first reading, reminding us that “not as man see does God see”. Man sees the appearances, the Lord says. We get caught up in what we can see, but the problem is that what we see is colored by our own personal experience. We each come from different places – are different ages, have differing life experiences, etc. – so we will necessarily see things differently and sometimes fail to see things at all. The challenge is to move from this limited point of view toward God’s expansive point of view. Rather than be limited by a particular place, time or perspective, God sees the whole picture at once. He sees centuries in the blink of an eye and yet is attentive to everything that goes on in the midst of our days.

We see this difference in views in the readings today. Samuel and Jesse both have their own views – they look to all of the other sons as possible candidates for Kingship but leave out David; surely he couldn’t be the king, he tends the sheep! And yet in the eyes of God, it was David all along who was the chosen one. Samuel and Jesse had to move from their view to Gods, and when they did, they were able to rejoice in the anointing of David.

We see something similar in the Gospel. The Lord is walking along with the Twelve and as they pass the man born blind, the disciples ask who sinned. This is because the Jewish concept is that if one was suffering it was because they had done something to deserve that suffering. So for the man to be born blind meant, in their mind, that he had done something wrong or his parents had. But when Jesus answers that neither he nor his parents sinned, the disciples were surely confused. That didn’t make sense. The Lord goes on to show the bigger picture: he was blind “so that the words of God might be made visible through him.” It wasn’t that he had done anything wrong, but rather that God wanted to manifest his power through this man. Where the people in the world saw abandonment by God, the Lord saw a beloved one through whom He could change hearts.

Healing of the Blind Man by Brian Jekel
Coming back around to the starting point, we often are filled with the question ‘why?’ in the midst of our trials or blessings, as well as those of others. But rather than be filled with a frustrated ‘why?’ the Lord invites us to understand that while we cannot see the big picture, He can and is indeed working for our good and the good of others. This should be a source of great consolation for us because all of us in our own way are experiencing some sort of blindness like the man in the gospel, and we can be assured that even the difficulties in our life are places where God can and will work, both for our good, as well as the good of others. There is nothing that happens in this life that God cannot bring some good out of. The most terrible of events, the crucifixion of Christ on the Lord – where we literally killed God in the Flesh – was even transformed to the place of our salvation. How much more can we do if we simply let Him into our hearts to place His hands on us there.

This is the most beautiful part of the story today – that Christ was so close to the blind man in his transformation. He placed His hands upon him and surely embraced Him later after his healing and transformation. In just a few moments we will celebrate the next Scrutiny for our Candidates for Full Communion and I will come to each of them and lay hands upon them just as the Lord did with the blind man. This will be a special sign to each of them that Jesus Christ is coming to them to continue to heal their blindness and bring them fully into the light, but it is also a sign to all of us that Christ is always here with us, within His arms’ reach, waiting for us to receive the healing we need and He desires. So let us receive that healing today that by His grace we might come to always see things in His light, and not in ours.