See Anew and Be Renewed

09-09-2018Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian F. Manning

In speaking, the prophet Isaiah uses contrasts. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the one who cannot move will win foot races, the one who is without words will be full of words - songs even. The very land itself will come alive: sands will be watered, deserts will flower. Our Gospel passage matches this. For through Jesus, God’s power reverses the condition of the man (symbol for anyone) who cannot hear and therefore cannot speak.

Miracles are in fact manifestations of the reign of God. Note how in all the miracle stories, the healing of both body and soul occurs. The person is whole and is wholly restored to the community. In welcoming the healed one, we should recognize that the community itself is healed and restored and made better for this.

The heart-rending reality for the deaf man was that his impairment closed him out of everyday life. Jesus’ action on his behalf makes it absolutely clear that no one need be left out of the reign of God.

This weekend in the second reading, James develops this same theme. He reminds us to see as Jesus saw and act as he acted, something we usually do not do. The community is to be the welcoming and freeing body gathered in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This may call for a reversal on our part. We are asked to identify with the ones who are poor in the eyes of the world. Our business is not to hand down recrimination and stand in judgment. Our business is to see anew and be renewed.

Each of us has a particular world view a personal lens through which we observe and interpret life. Our outlook may not be the best one or the only one available. We may find it difficult to readjust our sights once we have them set. We may not want to bother with all the messiness conversion implies. We may be tempted to narrow our focus rather than broaden it.

We are each called by baptism to open our eyes, our ears, and our mouths. Miracles fill our lives each day as we use the gifts God has given us. God only asks that we witness compassion for others as we give of ourselves to others like loving parents. Through our speech and prayer, our goodness and actions, obedience and attention, we go out into the world transforming it and the people in it for Jesus Christ. We and the world will be better off if we take some time this week to refocus or broaden our vision. Maybe we are the blind one who will be able to see, the deaf one who will finally hear, the mute one who sings. Maybe our personal little desert will bloom for the benefit of the world.

Father Brian