In this homily this weekend, Fr. Steve invited us to see life through the eyes of faith. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to see and experience the world differently. The question for us is this: Have we caught the vision? Or are we living the vision?
Christianity, and in particular, our Catholic faith is above all, a way of seeing. Everything else in the life of a disciple of Jesus, a committed Christian or Catholic, flows from and circles around the transformation of our vision – conversion. As disciples of Jesus, as Catholics, we see things differently – this is why our prayer, our liturgies, our action, even our way of being in the world has a distinctive accent and flavor. The great theologian, Origen of Alexandria, remarked that holiness is seeing through the eyes of Christ. The great Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, said with great passion that his mission as a Christian thinker was to help people to see. He wanted to help open their spiritual eyes so they can see the world differently. This Lent we can approach Jesus along with the blind man in today’s gospel saying, Jesus, I want to see. During this time of anxiety and fear for so many, we truly need this vision of faith.
Today’s gospel story from John is a beautiful account of the healing of a man born blind. It is about much more than physical healing, though that is a part of the story. As usual, John goes deeper to show a second cure. This story is ultimately about coming to vision through our encounter with Jesus Christ. Slowly the man comes to recognize Jesus as a prophet, then finally as the Lord.
The very opposite happens with the Pharisees. They were born with vision but refused to believe in the one sent from God. They were spiritually blind; thus Jesus says, If you were blind there would be no sin in that. But we see, you say, and your sin remains.
The cured man accepts Christ. They reject him. That is the tragedy. As quickly as he moves toward faith in Jesus as Lord and into the light, they move just as fast into hostility toward the Lord and into darkness. As he comes out of the dark tunnel, they enter it. Both the Pharisees and the cured man looked at Jesus of Nazareth. The Pharisees saw an opponent and a threat. The blind man saw a Savior.
Through faith we see things differently, we can see a deeper meaning to the things of this world:
- We see illness not just as a tragedy but also as an expression of the pain and limits of our world and a sharing in the passion of Jesus Christ.
- We see the church not at one more institution, but as the voice and presence of the Risen Christ in our world, our guide for life.
- We see the sacraments not just as ancient rituals but as actions of Jesus himself rescuing us in so many different ways from darkness.
- We see the Mass not as a ceremony but as the sacrifice of the cross perpetuated among us, drawing us into its saving power.
- We see our life not simply as a career, but as a journey towards or away from the living God.
- We see our care for others not just as philanthropy, but as an extension of the healing work of Jesus.
- We see marriage not just as a contract, but as the promise of two people giving themselves to each other with the same kind of loyal self-sacrificing love that Jesus has for the church.
- We see sexuality not just as an instinct or natural drive, but a sacred power that enables us to share in the work of God’s creation.
- We see death not as a biological end but as a passage to everlasting life.
- We see the smaller deaths and challenges in our life not as failures but as ways to new and deeper life.
- We see the same things that others see, but on a deeper level …with different eyes.
In baptism, we were given the capacity to see the Christ-centered meaning of events in our life. This is called the gift of faith. We must care for and grow in that faith. Or it will wither. The season of Lent, which is half over, invites us more deeply into Christ. These times of uncertainty and fear invite us more deeply into Christ. Let’s not waste this opportunity to grow in Him.