Tuesday, February 20, 2007

“Lord, that I May See!”

Quinquagesima is the last Sunday in the season of Ephiphany and the last Sunday of the Prelenten preparations for Lent. The appointed Gospel reading, Luke 18:31-43, is certainly well chosen for its theme of restoration of sight to those who are truly blind. In the text a blind man makes a request of the Lord saying, “Lord, that I may see!”

Yet the text begins by teaching us that this blind man is not the one who is unable to see what is truly necessary. For the blind man sees Jesus for who He really is, the Son of David, who has come not merely to restore physical sight to the blind, but to restore spiritual sight to those who think that they can see.

In the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus restored sight to another blind man. Later, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of not being of God because He worked this miracle on the Sabbath Day, the following was spoken:
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:39-41)

In our text from Luke the apostles and the multitude were in serious danger of being like the Pharisees. For they thought that they could see, and yet they did not see. Even though Jesus plainly spoke of what His ministry of salvation was about, still they did not hear or see.

The realization of how often we all are in this spiritual blindness would terrify us if we really counted it as seriously as we should. For we also approach matters of the true faith with blindness and do not even realize that we do not see. Truly we should be like the blind man in our text and as we approach the Scriptures and the life of the Church and our own personal daily walk of faith, we should continually cry out with the blind man, “Lord, that I may see!”

We generally are better off when we are infants, knowing nothing and looking to our parents and others to teach us. But then we grow older and go through a period of catechesis (often mislabeled “Confirmation Class”) and we imagine that we have learned sufficiently to see clearly. Then we approach the Scriptures and matters of faith with the thought, “Well, now, let’s see what I shall find in the Scriptures today.” This is truly a sad state of mind and spirit, for then we are relying upon our own reason and strength to try to understand what can only be revealed by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. How much more clearly we would see if we approached the Scriptures and all matters of faith with the thought, “O Lord, what would you have me to hear and see from this text?” At first this seems like a very subtle distinction. However, it is really a 180 degree reversal of approach and attitude. The first presumes with the blind Pharisees, “We see!” The second is a humble cry like with the blind man, “Lord, that I may see!”

You may ponder this matter further, if you like, by reading or listening to the sermon for Quinquagesima by clicking here.

By the way, don’t forget that Ash Wednesday is this week!

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