Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday word, 02 Mar 2008

Lenten Sunday4 A (02Mar2008) 1Sm 16.1b,6-7,10-13a; Ps 23; Eph 5.8-14; Jn 9.1-41
Second Scrutiny 2008
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Logic of God’s Heart

Again I direct my reflection to our Elect, and invite everyone to listen. Why? Lent prepares people to be baptized and confirmed at Easter. As we pray for our Elect and offer them our friendship and example, we renew our own baptisms as well as the grace of our confirmations: to be conformed more to the image of our Messiah. Lent encourages us to walk in the brilliant light of our Messiah Jesus.

Shortly, the church will call upon the “Source of unfailing light” to empower you, Elect, to let go of the “darkness of hatred and lies” and bathe yourselves in the “light and truth of love” of our our dead-and-risen Messiah Jesus./1/ That’s your vocation: to let go of what makes you less humane and to allow our risen Lord to make you more humane than you could be on your own.

That’s the vocation of each of us here. Lent calls us to remember more clearly our Christian vocations and to reorient ourselves in the light and life of our crucified and risen Messiah.

Lent is a “joyful season”/2/ because we prepare people to be reborn and to renew our baptismal vocations. St. Paul reminded us that this time is joyful because we were once darkness, but now [we] are light in the Lord. Darkness--that is, the absence of every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth; as well as human actions, which frustrate God’s justice; marginalize the poor; and injure creation and humans--darkness always encroaches on us. Christians don’t cringe at darkness; they shine by words and, especially, deeds as beacons of life, Jesus’ risen life. We are not merely beacons of hope, but of Jesus’ risen life. Hope helps us navigate through darkness and through lights contrary to Jesus’ gospel. Our lives radiate our Messiah’s risen life.

In practice that means we are different and that we live differently. People do note our different way of living. Our difference as Christians is not our making. Christians share in the dying and rising of Jesus. Jesus calls each of us because Jesus desires to continue his saving work through us. Imagine that! Coworkers and co-heirs with Jesus! We might ask, “Why us?”

I bet we would not choose one another, which makes our question, “Why us?” valid. Jesus’ answer is astonishing: Not as humans see does God see, because humans see the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart. All we humans see is external; but our way of seeing and measuring is not the only way. God sees what is most real--our innermost--which scripture designates with the phrase, the heart.

Humans exalted their limited sight. Ancients attributed human privations and limitations--for example, poverty and blindness--as the result of angering the gods. Jesus’ Jewish predecessors and contemporaries named that sin. One cannot fault their logic: if people transgressed God; and if someone was blind from birth; then who else but that one’s parents sinned?

Jesus came so that people would not follow that human logic but God’s logic and God’s desire. Jesus noted that the man’s blindness conducted another light: that the works of God might be made visible through him. The details--a formerly blind beggar, who claimed Jesus restored his sight on a sabbath, with saliva-mud no less--the details conspired to entangle his neighbors and Pharisees in their exalted logic.

The once blind man refused to get entangled. It was obvious to him that a prophet--a link to God--had opened his eyes. The invitation to us is clear: to which logic do we wish to cling? Our human ability to see only the appearance? Or, God’s ability to see our innermost, and more, God’s desire to invite us to join God’s son, Jesus, and extend his work?

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week become more aware that God is creating you to make God’s desires visible through you. Converse with the beggar, who was blind, to help you recognize Jesus’ logic more than your own. Ask Jesus to replace your logic of externals, expedience and self-concern with his logic of dying and rising to live for others. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ prayer reminds us of divine logic and enlightens us to produce[] every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
/1/ Second Scrutiny, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 168B.
/2/ First Lenten Preface.
Wiki-image of the Greek acrostic, "Light and Life" is used under the GFDL. Wiki-image of Bastien-Lepage's Blind Beggar is in the public domain.

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