Relearning to see

– First Week of Advent –

“Turning to his disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” [Luke 10: 23-24]

Take a moment to imagine the words of Jesus in today’s gospel text being directed at you. He turns to you, looks you in the eye, and says you are blessed because you have been given the chance to see what it is that God is doing.

What response does this assertion provoke in you? Perhaps you find yourself wondering what he talking about. It might raise questions: ‘what am supposed to have seen?’ ‘Have I missed it?’

‘Seeing’ is not a straightforward notion in the teaching of Jesus. There are those who think they see, but they do not (Mark 14:12). There are those who begin to see, but not clearly or all at once (Mark 8:22-26). Then there are those who encounter him without recognising him (John 20: 15, Luke 24:13-35).

When it comes to our relationship with God, we all stand in need of having our eyesight healed. The moment we start to take our relationship with God seriously, and begin to reflect on how we are called to live in response to that relationship, our blindness becomes apparent. Do we even see what God is doing, much less how are we to go about responding to it?

In this, we discover why all those stories about the healing of the blind, the deaf and the lame are relevant to us. We are the “man born blind”, fundamentally unable to see who God is and what God is doing without the intervention of God’s grace. We are the ones with the hearing and speech impediments: we cannot hear God’s words and we do not know how to proclaim God’s truth. We are the lame. We can run away on paths of our own, but are we able to take one step along the path that God is calling us to?

Advent is the season in which we prepare again for the birth of Jesus. If Jesus Christ is to be born in us, we must begin by acknowledging a problem: we cannot see, we cannot hear, we cannot speak, and we do not know how to walk the paths of God. We need God’s mercy.

At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. [Pope Francis, ‘The Face of Mercy’, Misericordiae Vultus, no. 3]

By Shane Dwyer

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