Sunday, March 26, 2017

Was blind.. but now I see.

Conversion.   It is a slow process for some, and a fast one for others.   In today's Gospel we see a man going through the process of conversion.   He begins blind and unable to see.   He encounters Jesus.  Jesus touches him and he is healed.   Notice careful the words he uses.   They are denying its  the same man because of this amazing change in him.   Some say yeah it looks like him, but can't be him.   Even when his parents say that it is the same man, they don't agree.   Eventually because of his words they through him out of the synagogue.  That doesn't mean as much to us today.. but think about his time... when the synagogue meant being part of life.   It was where religion happened, but being part of the community.  If you were thrown out of the synagogue you were also thrown out of work.. out of business.. out of family.   Today people just take it for granted they could find another place to go to church.. but he didn't have that luxury.  He was ostracized from everything he had.  An outcast.

Then in his worst moment, when he should have been celebrating, Jesus came to him again.   He became a disciple, a follower of Christ, and worshiped Jesus.    A new community with God himself.   A new life.  One that is so obvious to this newborn believer that when they asked who he was, he responded "Eimi."   I am. He responded with the exact same word that Jesus used when he said in Chapter 8 verse 58 "Amen, amen, I say to you before Abraham came to be, I AM."  Let that sink in for a moment. Even though he knew no theology, he had no formal training.. all he had was an encounter... the rest would come later... but for now, this man who could now see knew he was different.. knew he was changed.. and he was growing to be more like Christ by the second.

2158 God calls each one by name. Everyone's name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.

That's why we must be careful when we speak ill of others, Amen?  The Catechism says that every persons name is sacred. That's important to remember.   Do we treat others that way?   Do we treat them as if we are encountering another image of God?   Regardless of how they live, regardless of the choices they have and are making.... the image is still there, even if obscured by the flesh.   That's why dignity and respect are so important.   We often forget that in the political realm... labeling people with names that either dehumanize or distances them so far from ourselves that we don't even consider their humanity.   Refugee.   Criminal.  Illegal immigrant.  Vagrant.   Miscreant.  Juvenile delinquent.  Low functioning.  Bad apple.... other.. them. they... and many words that are too vile or demeaning to even repeat...

1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity." No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.

Remember that Jesus came to give us sight... to improve our vision that we might see one another as more than just something external, but another self, another person, another creature made in the image of God... Why is it so important that we continually work to increase this vision?  Being a Christian means continual conversion, continual growth, until when people look at us.. they see Christ.   If we aren't growing... if we aren't challenged... if we still have any hate... we still have growth to do.   Yes, I know it's hard.  I know it's difficult because I, like St. Paul, think of myself as the greatest sinner of all sinners.   That is why I can't rely on myself to do it.  I must reach out to the Church and the Sacraments, to the flowing waters of God's grace that can form me.. I must allow Christ, the potter, to take the clay that I am made of... mix it with himself... and form it back into someone who can see just a little more clearly.  That takes humility.   Realizing that I am not strong enough.. and that only He can do it for me... and then having the courage to step forward and let Him.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2017.