Shall we remain
blind?

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.”

Our Old Testament reading lays it all out there. Amos is drawing a very clear picture of Israel’s complacency, laziness, arrogance, and blindness. They were too busy enjoying themselves, believing they had it all – and they failed to see the collapse that was all around them. Jesus picks up this theme in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

Jesus points to the ways we can be complacent, lazy, arrogant, and blind. In illustrating the way one man failed to see what was right in front of him, Jesus reminds us that we can miss what is right in front of us. Even nature, in the form of dogs, recognizes what man could not see. This is a warning – in each age we must be awake.

We have been truly blessed here in Schenectady. Our members are faithful and generous. Everyone works together to raise up the Name of Jesus. The Gospel is proclaimed and we live it. We have a very high PNU membership rate. Yet we must redouble our efforts. Awake and aware, we must lead people to Christ and his Church.

The organizers of our Church, men and women, clergy and lay, came together because their eyes were open. They didn’t just sit in their pews blindly coughing up pennies and nickels while being accused of every evil and threatened with hell. They saw the hatred of evil pastors. They saw the power of greed and the exercise of iron-fisted rule. They saw hypocrisy. They didn’t ignore it and took action – organizing a pristine Church on the model of the early Church. Eleven years later and still on alert, they saw persecution and injustice. They took action – founding Spójnia. In this day and age we must remain diligent and awake doing what is needed.

Our world and our country are faced with tremendous challenges. Yet too many eyes and ears are closed as they were in Israel. We stretch comfortably on couches, eat rich food, listen to improvisations, drink wine in excess, and anoint ourselves with the best perfumes and lotions. As people of faith we must wake the world to God’s justice and truth.

Tragically, our Church is facing dire times. National Church dues amount to $2.15 a week, yet thousands have decided the Church is not worth it. Heaven forbid they go up to $3 a week! The PNU cannot get people to join together. As Amos warned Israel: the road ahead will be captivity and disgrace. Will that be our fate? We have much to do. Eyes open and resolute it is time to rise again. Let us lead the way to salvation.

Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2014

whoIsHe

May my sight
never falter

“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue.

Jesus cures a man born blind.

Rather than being thankful for this tremendous miracle, the Pharisees argue about the nature of Jesus – is He good or evil. They formed arguments to refute the goodness and holiness of Jesus, to show that He was not from God. They went so far as to summon the man’s parents, hoping they would testify that their son wasn’t really blind, or that this wasn’t their son. They testified that it is their son and he was indeed born blind.

The parents wouldn’t go so far to admit that Jesus had cured their son; they were afraid of losing their social standing.

The Pharisees were trying to disprove what had happened. The parents were trying to avoid what happened. Everyone was closing his or her eyes before the man born blind, a man who could now see.

The man born blind gives solid testimony and states the facts: I was born blind. Jesus made mud, told me to wash, and now I see. Jesus is a prophet. I will not pass judgment on Jesus, as you would have me do. All I know is that I was blind and now I see. Then he stands up and rebukes the blind Pharisees:

“This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”

Their blindness was so deep that they cursed him and threw him out.

We must take care to avoid blindness. We must not harden our hearts and shut our eyes to what is obvious. When we do falter in seeing, we must repent of our blindness.

Our Lenten journey calls us to recognize the blindness in our lives. Is it judgmentalism and legalism – living like the Pharisees and believing that we have all the right answers and everyone else is sinful and wrong? Is it fear, like the man’s parents, such fear that we hold back from bearing witness to God’s truth? Let us call upon Jesus. Jesus who said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see.” Let us ask Jesus for the ability to see and ask for His healing. Let us ask Him for courage and the grace to never falter in seeing rightly.