Lent 4 Sun Yr A 2017
Ss. Peter & Paul/Danville
Well – here we are in the desert – where it’s hot and dry. We’ve been up on a high mountain already. We are seeing Jesus more clearly for who He is – and coming back down the mountain, we’re finding it has transformed us (if we are letting ourselves be transformed, that is). Did I mention it was hot in the desert? And we didn’t bring any food or water – but we did that on purpose. Just like Jesus, we want to rely on God for our sustenance. And it’s working - because last week we came upon a well in the desert, and met someone there who seemed to be a stranger. But He said He’d been waiting for us all along – waiting for us to ask Him for a drink of living water that quenches all of our thirsts forever. He can’t be a stranger…He knows everything about us – everything – even the things we try to keep hidden from others and ourselves – He knows everything about us, and still loves us, gives us this water if we ask. We’re transformed again as we trust Him more and let ourselves be known by Him who already knows us perfectly.
Yes – it’s hot and dry in the desert – it’s hard in the desert – we do without in the desert. But – this desert seems to be doing something for us – it seems to be doing something to us. Like ancient Israel following the pillar of cloud and fire, we’re discovering that we’re not really wandering in the desert. Sure, it sometimes seems like we’re wandering, struggling with the same old stuff – not seeming to make any headway, not really getting anywhere in this life of faith and discipleship and relationship with Jesus. But we can see, if we look, that we’re really headed toward something. That’s why this Laetare Sunday we change our purple to rose; because we’ve been transformed, we’ve been refreshed with living water – and we’ re beginning to see that there’s hope…
But then – when things seem to be looking up – that’s when we discover that we’re blind. Blind as the proverbial bat. It would be horrible to go blind in the middle of the desert. But this is worse! We didn’t go blind – no, we realize we’ve been blind all along! No wonder it’s so hard here in the desert; we’re blind and we didn’t even know it!
Our spiritual blindness is so much a part of our vision that we hardly ever acknowledge it, but it’s there. We think we see sloth, vice, and danger in the poor, downtrodden, imprisoned and outcast, but in the desert we realize we’re blind to the dignity of the marginalized that is as fundamental to their existence as it is to ours. We think we see in the Sacrament of Reconciliation an antiquated holdover from a misguided age, but in the desert we realize we’re blind to the workshop of humility and tangible encounter with grace that frees us from sin that confession truly is. We mistake the beauty of creation for nothing more than a picture-perfect portrait meant for our casual and occasional pleasure, but in the desert we realize we’re blind to the giant arrow pointing to the masterful Creator worthy of our worship who carefully crafted for us a paradise in which we can walk and talk with Him so that we can come to know Him intimately on our journey toward heaven. We think we see in the return of the ancient traditions of the Church an empty ritual that binds us to the past and prevents us from doing things the way we want, but in the desert we’re realizing we’re blind to the beauty and freedom these thousands of years of tradition represent and make real in our lives. We think we see in the rules and disciplines and clear moral teachings of the Church nothing but chains that bind our preferences and rob our freedom, but in the desert we’re realizing we’re blind to the spiritual freedom and authentic discipleship these disciplines lead us into.
In the desert of our Lent, we’re realizing that we are BLIND!
Were blind – but it’s OK. It’s OK because…He is here. The One we followed into the desert and up the high mountain. The One who was and is and always will be – the source of all that is good – the exalted King of All Creation who stoops low enough to take us by the hand and lead us through the desert to the promised land. The One who was waiting for us at the well of living water and gives it to us freely if we ask. Jesus is here! And what does He do when we discover how blind we are? Here – in the silence and the hunger and thirst of the desert – here in the desert Jesus gives us living water that quenches our deepest thirsts, and here in the desert Jesus restores our sight!
Search your hearts – look for your blindness. Are you blind to sin? Blind to love? Blind to trust? Are you blind to your own dignity and worth? Blind to how precious you are in the eyes of God? Search your hearts – are you blind to the mercy of God that forgives – the mercy of God that calls you on a mission in this world no matter what your faults and failings are – are you blind to the mercy of God that pours out upon you the love of the Savior no matter what, if you’ll only ask for it. Search your hearts – look for your blindness – and when you begin to see your blindness, trust Jesus – trust Him to cure your blindness and restore your sight. It’s why He brought you to the desert…
Along with those preparing to enter the Church this Easter, the Lord restores our sight, sending us on our way – better able to see the goodness of the Lord, better able to leave behind the darkness of this world in exchange for the works and ways of light. “Brothers and sisters, you were once in darkness – but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light! Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!”