14th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 4 July 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Ezekiel 2:2-5; Responsorial: Psalm 123; II: II Corinthians 12:7-10; Gospel: Mark 6: 1-6a
“Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.” – So sings the refrain from the responsorial Psalm for today. To have our eyes, the focus of our life upon God is an holy call the followers of Christ share. It is, in so many ways, the path and the goal of our pilgrimage of faith. To see Jesus in Heaven, but also to “fix our eyes” upon Him this side of eternity can seem to be an impossible quest.
The Scripture readings help recognize the immense difficulty of this call. But the light of God’s Word also provides us clear guidance to grow ever clearer in our vision of Christ.
One of the most important graces we need to better see Jesus is to realize that to behold God, in the beauty of His holiness and the power of His love, is to allow the Spirit of God to heal our vision, to remove the cataracts of this life that blind us of the reality of God. Jesus, in the beatitudes, said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. These words, so simple, so powerful also seem so…impossible. To see God my heart must be pure?!?! If we take the Words of our Lord as a destination to be reached prior to seeing God, then yes…without complete sanctification, it would be…impossible. But when understood within the context of the Sermon on the Mount, and the other beatitudes we realize it is a journey to which we are called. With Jesus. And as we walk, as we follow Him His mercy can cleanse our hearts. The Spirit of God can heal our cataracts that we may see, bit-by-bit, more of God.
To see Jesus we must be growing in faith. An hiker climbing up a tall mountain may experience a long path, perhaps perilous, perhaps shrouded in clouds. And to see the destination, the mountain top may be blocked for most of the way. In fact as most hikers know from a distance the peak may be very clear. But the closer one is to the actual top the more the view, the peak may be obscure. S it may be in our longing to behold our Lord.
St. Paul in the second reading and Jesus in the Gospel each relate some of the difficulties we may realize in the journey. For it is as a of people of faith we are learning to see as our vision is being healed. We are learning:
- To see beyond our senses: The people of the hometown of Jesus were crippled in their faith, and blinded in their ability to see Him as the Messiah because the cataracts of their senses crippled them to see Jesus beyond just the carpenter, or Jesus just the neighbor with His family. They were so focused on THEIR VISION and THEIR UNDERSTANDING. They could not grow to experience His fuller Truth. We should always be learning to realize our senses, our feelings are not the same as our faith.
- To see beyond our issues: The prophet Ezekiel, in our first reading, was called by God to preach to the rebellious Israelites in exile, in Babylon. There were for the people, and Ezekiel, an abundance of issues that were challenging them to see God and His mercy. For the prophet he would have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and heal him beyond his fears and uncertainties. For some of the Israelites they would allow their vision to be healed and they would experience restoration and renewal in God. We too, in our personal lives, our families, in the church and in the nation must recognize the temptation to focus, not on Christ, but on the faults of another, the guilt within our own soul, the seeming impossibility of the challenges, or simply some sacred cow of an issue we may face or even cherish. Whether it be our senses, our understandings or our issues we are always called to see, yes they are real, they are valid, to a point. But they are not God. For if we are to see Jesus we must look beyond our own small horizons. We must learn:
- To see beyond self. As humans we find it easy and comfortable to live within what we sense, (see, smell, taste, feel, hear). We also become quite comfortable within our closley held understandings and issues. The people of Europe, prior to the age of discovery were certain and deeply settled in the visible truth that the world is flat. All their senses, understandings, even their religion upheld that perspective. It was only as some few courageous souls believed and chose to exercise their faith and courage to explore did the bigger truth come to be known. So it is with our vision of God, of Jesus.
As Catholics, we believe Jesus is truly and fully Present in the Blessed Sacrament. With eyes of faith, we can see the consecrated bread and wine as the true Body and Blood of God, of Christ, of Jesus. But His very Real Presence in the Euharist will empower us to see even more of Him in His Body, the entire people of God. We also rejoice in the holy revelation of Truth found in Scripture and Sacred Tradition. But in humility we must also accept the fullness of Truth is found IN CHRIST and it is in a growing relationship with God incarnate that we grow in seeing…more and more of Jesus, His holiness, His mercy, His love.
Seeing Jesus is the quest we share. To behold the eternal peace and glorious joy of God is the call we share in our Psalm: “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord…” But it is, simply impossible. IF we depend only on our holiness or perfection. To see our Lord we must draw close to Him. And we must remember that if we walk with Him there will be the crosses of our life.
In World War II there was a middle-aged Dutch spinster lady who lived with her elderly father and sister each of deep Christian faith. When the Nazis came they took to helping the Jews to hide and escape. They all were captured by the Gestapo. The two sisters were imprisoned in a concentration camp. Their father and other family members were all killed while incarcerated. The elder sister, Corrie Ten Boom, watched her sister beaten and fall gravely sick. She watched her slowly die at the hand of her captors. From that place of deep evil and darkness, Corrie was miraculously released just prior to being executed. She would go on, for many years to witness to the mercy and peace of God. She would witness of Jesus she had learned to see in the darkest of places as she grew beyond her senses, her issues, her self. She would go on to encourage others to look for and see Jesus, even as we carry our crosses.