From the Pastor's Desk
This weekend’s Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent presents us with the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. Not only does this episode underscore the fact that Jesus is, indeed, from God, that he is the Messiah, and he has the divine power to heal, this miracle also illustrates the very thematic point of our Lenten journey: that those who are spiritually blind are called forth to now see the power of God made manifest in Jesus; and that we all are to gain new sight and insight into our Blessed Lord, impacting the way we live. All of us are, therefore, today invited to perceive and see our lives from a new vantage point, from a more profound posture of faith in Christ. All of us are challenged to have a new perspective, to interpret our lives spiritually, and to see as Jesus saw.
The 49 travelers who recently returned with me from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land certainly had a “crash course” in seeing things in a new way. By visiting the holy sites of Gospel fame, we all had the opportunity to gain new insights into the life of Jesus, which surely breathed freshness into our future reading and hearing of Scripture, and into the way we appreciate the historical roots of our Catholic tradition of faith. Far from a mere vacation to the other side of the globe, this pilgrimage trip may have been the “best religion class” we have ever taken! Our Lord surely used the experience to make our appreciation for his Church more profound, and to see things differently; yes, even more deeply. We even saw many of the vistas that Jesus himself would have seen so long ago. But, now, of course, it is our challenge to take this experience to the next level: to see and live as Jesus saw and lived.
While in the Holy Land, we saw the Sea of Galilee. We even went out upon it on a fisherman’s boat. We parked the boat in the middle of the sea, where we paused to read the Gospel passages which spoke of Jesus’ authority over nature. Even the winds and waves of the tempest storm had once obeyed him. Through a net-fishing demonstration, we saw how fisherman of old used to go out for a catch by the clever use of ancient nets. Such a methodology requires a special touch and sensitivity, and the ability to interpret the moment. All were skills that would later help the disciples to see things differently and to one day be fishers of men. Later, we celebrated an outdoor Mass on the slopes of the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the lush green foliage, flowers, and vegetation, which cascaded downward along the east side of the Sea of Galilee. We could perceive the serene calm and consoling tranquility which were hallmarks of this special place, as the breezes gently blew around us on the Galilean hillside. One could easily envision the multitudes gathered there, attentively listening to our Lord as he preached the Sermon on the Mount, giving the people the Beatitudes. A new Christian outlook and way of life was set in motion that day. It was a momentum that has guided the followers of Jesus and his Church ever since. We also ascended the Mount of Transfiguration, gaining the panoramic view which provided the backdrop for Jesus manifesting his glory to Peter, James and John. Those insights forever changed their lives, and gave them spiritual strength to forge ahead in their discipleship. While in Jerusalem we went to the ancient pool of Bethesda, a place once known for its curative powers, and a similar context to the healing pool of Siloam where the man born blind, whose story we hear in this weekend’s Gospel, was cured. New sight and insight were given him that day. Such gifts abounded for us as our faith found its historical grounding in the reality of the Holy Land. That which was once ethereal and transcendent has become incarnational and concrete. So much of the Holy Land experience helped us to see things in a new way.
Yes. Lent is very much about gaining new sight and insight. It is a time to deepen our walk with Christ, and to learn to see as he saw, as well as to interpret our lives spiritually, so as to live as he lived.