January 30, 2011
ORDINARY 4 (A)
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. – Mt. 5: 12
People who are mentally ill are usually capable of flawless logic. The problem lies in their starting point, in the imagination, in the seeing, & not in their logic. They only absorb information that reinforces their flawed way of seeing life.
We can be much like that, living in our own closed world, in our own blindness; & that can make us sick of soul, if not of mind. From birth we are bombarded with images of “the good life”: expensive cars, exotic travel, constant entertainment, beautiful houses, lots of electronic toys. We are told that the perfect lifestyle consists of total freedom, with no rules & endless consumption. Any dissident images are filtered out much like the absence of windows in a casino keep out any view of the real world.
Christians, however, are called to see things the way Jesus sees. Our faith can’t change the facts about the world we live in, but it can change the way we see those facts, & that in itself can make a big difference. We see through the eyes of Christ, & so we see what is important, what matters, & hints of the divine. Then we act on this. But how does Jesus see?
From today’s Gospel we can see that He sees blessing in the most unlikely places: in poverty of spirit, in mourning, in meekness, in hunger & thirst for righteousness, in being merciful, in having a clean heart, in being a peacemaker, in being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. His focus is on the deepest truth of the present, a truth that contradicts the surface of what is happening & that will eventually win out. The repeated “blessed” hammers home the single, foundational truth & the many manifestations of this blessedness. He is trying to persuade us of a deeper way of seeing what is happening.
Astonishingly, it is when we are blessed that we can in turn give blessing. Here’s the story of Joey Russell:
When he was 9 years old, Joey bought, with chore money he had saved up, a 1912 postcard of the original Titanic, signed by an actual survivor of the ship’s sinking. Some time later, he saw that the mother of his best friend Kate needed a bone-marrow transplant. He offered to sell his card to help raise money for the procedure. She needed at least $60,000 for the transplant & without it she would probably die.
When talk show host Rosie O’Donnell heard about Joey’s act of kindness, she invited him on her show. She introduced him to the cast of the musical Titanic, but that wasn’t all. O’Donnell, along with the movie’s producers, had arranged to buy Joey’s postcard for $60,000. Joey could have seen all the things he could buy with that money, but in the tradition of sainthood, he saw otherwise.
Spiritual sight doesn’t come easy in a world devoted to the maintenance of our blindness, but we can find a cure in prayer, good works, & the reading of Scripture. So let’s open our eyes: we are the saints of today. AMEN!