Dispelling the Darkness

03-14-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“Ya Gotta believe!” This was a pithy statement coined by pitcher Tug McGraw when the Mets had some success in their history. When we want to be practical we say, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” In the Gospel we will use at some of the Masses this Sunday (John 9:1-41), we have the account of Jesus curing a man born blind. As astounding as this miracle was, there were religious leaders who refused to believe what they saw. They had a bias against Jesus and as a result refused to see the powerful, healing power of God’s love right in front of them. Their downplaying of the miracle caused them to say Jesus healed on a Sabbath and they even questioned the man’s parents about whether or not the blindness was from birth. Jesus and His healing power were right in front of them, yet they did not want to believe and sought reasons to discredit Jesus.

As much as seeing is believing, even more when we believe in and trust Jesus we see what we could never or would never see otherwise. Our faith leads to wonder and awe as we open our minds and hearts to God’s love, mercy, patience, humility, truth, and wisdom. The more we contemplate and see these gifts from God, the clearer our lives are. We have hope, direction, inspiration, confidence, and joy we would never have otherwise. Only through the presence of God can we “see” who we truly are and who we can become, and be fully alive in the best sense possible. At times the vision of faith is clouded by fear of failure, uncertainty, and unwillingness to make the commitment of faith. We procrastinate, distract ourselves, become self absorbed in anger or pleasure and comfort seeking, and blind ourselves to the wonder of God’s love for us and all people.

In this Gospel passage Jesus says, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” When we take the time to pray and read the Scriptures (the readings for Mass every day are on the website USCCB on the internet), we can better see. As we can observe in this Gospel, Jesus can only help those who are open to Him. His approach is not to overpower, put down, or threaten, but to open our “eyes” to the light of God’s presence in our lives and, even more, our presence in His life. As St. Paul reminds us in the second reading at Mass today (Ephesians 5:8-14), “Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” To ignore the light of faith is to walk into the darkness of confusion, excuses, delusion, and emptiness.

There is a lot of emphasis today in the political and public arena to be whoever and whatever you want to be or feel like being. The vision of faith sets us firmly on the foundation of our true identity - we are all the children of God. Jesus dispelled the darkness of foolishness, futile efforts, and misguided desires by opening the “eyes” of our minds and hearts to His presence in our lives and our presence in His. Peace is found in truth that comes from God, divine love that sacrificed all on the cross, forgiveness and mercy that God is ready to shower upon us as soon as we ask, and divine wisdom and truth that comes from the very creator of wisdom and truth. I offer the second reading (Ephesians 5:8-14) for Mass (Year A) for your prayerful reflection.

Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.