I was talking to a friend the other day. She told me she has started a blog. I gave her some encouragement and offered to help any way I can. Then I came home and looked at this blog and realized that I haven’t posted since Memorial Day! Over a month ago! If I were an aspiring blogger I would take Deacon Mike’s advice and toss it in the trash can. I’m embarrassed.
I could make all kinds of excuses for my inactivity but I won’t. I know better. This coming November, this blog will be ten years old. I actually started blogging for my former employer in April 2006, more than twelve years ago. I think I know how to blog. I even know how to blog on a regular basis because in my capacity as “professional blogger” I was expected to do it as part of my job. So, what happened?
Life happened. Other things seemed to always get in the way. Believe it or not, these beautiful words of wisdom don’t just flow magically from my fingers. A good post takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.
Then there are those fingers themselves. I’ve developed a neurological condition called Essential Tremor, that causes my hands to shake. It’s hereditary. My mom had it too. Aside from being very aggravating, it makes it very hard to type (or eat). If I’m going to continue, and I am, I’m going to look into voice recognition software to make this less of a chore. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
But, as I often do, I digress. Today is America’s birthday. 242 years ago a brave group of colonists thumbed their noses at King George and declared our independence. In doing so, they risked everything. If this experiment had failed they would have lost their families, their homes, and their lives.
Those original Americans had settled along the East Coast. The thirteen colonies all bordered the Atlantic Ocean. There’s no way those Founding Fathers could have imagined the vast land we know today as the United States of America. They had no way of knowing the natural resources that we would enjoy.
God blessed those founders in their efforts and has blessed our country throughout its history. But today so many of us want to turn our backs on God. We want Him out of our courthouses and our schools. So many forget what He has done for us.
There’s a contentious fight over undocumented foreigners coming into our country illegally. But whichever side of that argument you happen to be on, here’s one incontrovertible fact. Thousands of people want to come into our country but nobody’s trying to sneak out. If the President builds a wall, there won’t be any US citizens trying to climb over it.
So, enjoy your freedom. Enjoy your ability to come and go as you please. Enjoy the day off from work but don’t forget the reason for the celebration.
Every weekend the Church gives us a set of readings; usually one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a Responsorial Psalm and a reading from one of the four Gospels. They’re considered to be a set. They all go together and, in the bigger picture, each week’s readings build on what’s gone before. There are three sets of readings, years A, B, and C. We’re about to finish up year B.
The Church year begins with the First Sunday of Advent, this year on November 29 and the various readings take us through the life of Christ. It’s all very orderly, in fact the majority of the year is called “Ordinary Time” because the weeks follow one another in an orderly fashion and they’re numbered using ordinal numbers, in other words, first, second, and so on.
Father and I aren’t free to choose the readings we want to use. We may have certain favorites, but we can’t just throw them in willy-nilly, whenever we feel like it. The entire three-year cycle of readings, divinely inspired, works together to deliver God’s message, week-after-week, year after year……. assuming we’re paying attention.
With all the readings in the two big books, the Lectionary and the Book of the Gospels, sometimes a single word or two conveys an important message and if we miss those small messages we miss a lot.
Today’s Gospel is a good example. We’re all familiar with the story of Jesus’ healing of the blind man. The blind man calls out for help. Jesus asks him what he wants, a rhetorical question since we know Jesus already knows what the man wants, and the man says, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus grants the man’s wish. Another miracle performed by the Son of God. But if we just focus on the miracle, we may miss something important. We have to pay close attention to the last two sentences of the story. Jesus says, “’Go your way’ your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way.” See what happened there. Jesus told the man to go his way, but the man chose to follow Jesus.
Jesus didn’t play “Let’s make a deal”. He didn’t say He’d heal the man in exchange for his everlasting gratitude. He didn’t attach any strings to the healing. He healed the man out of unconditional love. Yet the formerly-blind man was so grateful that he chose to follow Jesus instead of going his own way.
In this week’s bulletin, the Stewardship Thought for the Week talks about miracles. It says, “Many people think that miracles don’t happen anymore. But, if you focus on the positive, not the negative, focus on your blessings instead of your hardships, miracles will seem common. I absolutely believe in miracles and I hope you do too. They happen all the time. Some are big. Some are small. But they happen.
Jesus restoring the blind man’s sight was a miracle. But the fact that the blind man happened to be in the right place at the right time is also a miracle. He could have been sitting on the other side of town and would have never had the chance to approach Jesus. There wasn’t something like the Saint Louis Review that tells us every week where Archbishop Carlson and Bishop Rice are going to be during the next seven days. Jesus just kind of “showed up” just like He does today.
The man WAS blind, so it’s not like he saw Jesus coming! Just the fact that the blind man was in Jesus’ path is a miracle in itself.
I think the lesson for us today isn’t so much about miracles as it is about how we respond to our blessings. Jesus told the man to go HIS way. But the man chose to go JESUS’ way. Every one of us is blessed in countless ways. We have our life. We have our health. We live in the greatest country in the world. Each of these things is a gift from God. We don’t deserve all these blessings but we receive them anyway. Do we respond to these gifts by following Jesus, or do we choose to go our own way?
Obviously we’re all here today, so we are following Jesus for at least one hour per week. The real question is, “What do we do with the other 167 hours per week?” Do we earnestly pray for the wisdom to understand God’s will? Do we mean it when we say, “Thy will be done”? That IS how Jesus told the Apostles, and us, to pray.
I’m going to close with a prayer. It’s one I’ve used before. It’s by Father Thomas Merton from the book “Thoughts in Solitude”. It reminds us that we’re all blind in our own way, maybe even more blind than the man in the story. If you like the prayer, there are cards like this at the entrances to the chapel. If you think the pray is too long, then maybe the blind man’s prayer is more appropriate for you: “Master, I want to see!”