Thursday, December 3, 2015

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

Do you remember those posters that became popular in the early 90s?  What appeared to be a random mess of colored dots would become something amazing and three dimensional if you learned how to look at it.  If you tried too hard you would have trouble seeing it.  Only when you relaxed and concentrated on the center of the image would it come into focus.  Some of those were truly breath taking.  I remember one of three dolphins breaking the surf of the ocean.  It was so intricate that often when I finally got my eyes to relax enough to see the image, I'd try to focus on one spot or another to see the detail and my eyes would lose the image all together. 

When I read tomorrow's Gospel I am reminded of those images.  Funny how the human mind works eh?  Two blind men were crying out to Jesus, "Son of David, have pity on us!"   They followed him into the house were he was staying and asked again.  Jesus, seeing their faith, heals them.  Then he says this interesting phrase, "See that no one knows about this."  It didn't do any good, they ran off and spread the word.  Why would Jesus want this?  I think it's like those images up there.  These men were blind, but now they see.  For a moment they were face to face with God himself.  They experienced the healing power of Christ through faith.  Yet, they lost focus.  What had finally became clear, so clear that they gained their earthly sight back, quickly went blurry when they moved their gaze from the center of the image... Christ.

Jesus did not come to be a Rock Star.  He came to be the suffering servant.  Too many came to him only for the miracles.  They ran out to see him heal, to see him feed the hungry, they followed him not for who he was, but for the glittery miracles.  He wanted to give them something more.  He wanted to give them eternal life.  He wanted to fix their souls.  To restore them to perfect Communion with the Father. He offered salvation.  He offered agape love. 

There is this scene in the movie The Robe that always touches me.  Miriam(Betta St. John) has been healed by Christ.  She is talking to this roman (Richard Burton).  She talks about how bitter she used to be, how her spirit was broken, her hopes her dreams were dark.  She couldn't see.  Then he finds out that she can't even walk.  Jesus had fixed what she needed, not what she wanted.  How powerful is that? 

I think we too live in spiritual blindness sometimes.  I think we want the Fourth of July to happen around us.  We want to see miracles and explosions.   We see Christ so clearly at some points, but then we take our eyes off the center of the photo to try and focus on the details on the outside edge.  We focus so much on how faith feels, that we take our eyes off Christ.  Like Peter we are walking on water.. but then we look at the waves instead of His face.  

Miracles are good.  I'm very Pentecostal in my attitude, 100% Catholic in my faith.  I like to see people lift their hands in prayer.  I am filled with joy for those who are so overwhelmed by God's love that they are slain in the spirit.   I have even been known to shout Amen or Praise the Lord during a stirring talk or speech.  All of these can be good things, if they keep the focus on Christ.  If they pull us away, if they put the focus on other people, or on the gifts themselves.. we lose the image, it all becomes blurry again. 

Jesus understood this.  He didn't want the focus to be on his Miracles, but on the Kingdom of God.  He didn't want the attention to be on what he could do, but on who He was.  He didn't want to distract people with glitz, glamour and fame... rather he wanted them to have peace, joy, and hope. He wanted the lowly to find joy in the Lord and the poor to rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.  Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus?  Or are you more focused on things you want from Him?  Are your eyes open to the right things?  Or is the image still fuzzy and you need to readjust to see it better?

As Advent continues let us take this time to make sure we are looking at the right part of the image.  Let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit to allow God to guide us.   Let's spend more time with the Scriptures, with the Sacraments, and with our devotions.  Focusing our lives to orient our Spiritual Vision towards God himself.  Then, and only then, will things begin to become clear.  How long you ask?  How long will it take for me to get a clear vision of God?  Today we were having a discussion about suffering.  Someone mentioned that suffering makes us grow.  Another quipped, "How long Lord?  How long must I grow?"  I responded, "Until you reach heaven."   Yes, that's how long it takes to clear your vision.  For now we see through a veil, a reflection.. then we shall see face to face.  Keep focusing.  Keep growing.  Let Christ be reborn in your heart with every thought, every breath.. until you reach Heaven.