A Lent unlike any other: rather than beef up devotion, I find myself reducing spiritual intake. Much of the time I find myself gaping at a Franciscan cross in my living room. Reduction. That’s how I cope in quarantine.
This invasive virus is made worse by wars of words—partisan bickering, lay people pontificating on the latest covid-19 sound bite, weird prophesies that otherwise discerning people blast through the virtual universe. Fools rush into our fortresses. Reduced. To Jesus. Amid many words, I want the Word.
Only One opened my blind eyes and gave me life. Gives me life. Besides staring cross-eyed, I’m reading over and over the last two Sunday Gospels. These are miracle stories, our miracles, which we can personalize as an antidote to our paralysis.
The Word of light opened this blindman’s eyes (John 9). Jesus didn’t quibble about what made me blind (‘born-that-way’, etc.) He just chose to heal me as to glorify Himself (vs.1-5). And He walked with me every step of the way as I grew to discover Him: first the prophet, then the healer, then at last, the Son of Man. The blind see, wisemen go dark, and ‘blessed is the one who takes no offense in Me,’ says the humble King (Lk. 7:23).
The Word of life summons me daily. Lazarus (John 11) stank of death, and grieving loved ones lost sight of the real Jesus as the stench rose. ‘He wouldn’t have died had you been there, Jesus!’ said his intimates; ‘Let us die with Lazarus!’ Hard to say what disturbed Jesus more: the death of his friend or how grief distorted their spiritual sight. As Jesus’ friends, perhaps we too trouble Him with bent vision. And I wonder if my reduction will result in greater faith or the ‘worldly sorrow that brings forth death’ (2 Cor. 7:10). I heed Him, as He commands Lazarus’ tombstone to be rolled away then insists of the dead man: ‘Come forth!’ (vs. 38, 43)
The Word speaks a better Word to us: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life; the one who believes in Me will live’ (Jn 11:25). Endowed with power to accomplish what He wills, the Word goes forth (Is. 55:11) and will raise His grounded ones.
‘I am under vows to You, O God. I will present my thank offerings to You. For You have delivered me from death, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.’ (Ps. 56: 12, 13)
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