Prisoners of Received Images

Once upon a time, a man sits down at his desk to begin the day’s work when a co-worker runs breathless into the office.  “I was almost killed outside!  I had just walked out of the deli where I buy my egg salad sandwich every morning.  Suddenly, a police car comes speeding down the street, chasing another car.  The other car stops right in front of me and two guys jump out and begin shooting at the police.  I hit the ground and could hear bullets whizzing over my head.  I’m lucky to be alive!”  After a moment of silence, the guy at his desk asks, “You eat an egg salad sandwich every morning?”

What is it like to never perceive something important or holy?

Today, God teaches us about who is really blind and who can really see.  And in teaching us about blindness the Lord chooses the least obvious people to demonstrate his power:  David, the youngest in Jesse’s family, and, the man born into a family whose parents have no backbone.

Ancient culture dictates that the oldest is the greatest leader. Samuel looks for a new king to replace Saul.  So when the prophet arrives at the house of Jesse, everyone believes that the oldest, Eliab, would be anointed king.  However, God looks into the heart.  After going down the line from the first to the seventh, it is the youngest eighth son, David, whom God chooses.

Ancient culture dictates that the man born blind must have been a sinner; he deserves his blindness.  But God does not see as humans see.  God does not perceive reality as we see life.  Jesus refutes nonsensical piety.  He announces that the man of the Gospel is blind so that God can demonstrate his power.  And in curing the man of his congenital blindness, Jesus exposes the blindness of his parents; Jesus exposes the blindness of the visitors to the temple who deny his cure; Jesus exposes the blindness of the religious leaders.  By taking simple items like mud, spittle and water, Jesus creates a salve to soothe and cure blind eyes.  And afterwards the man born blind sees life physically and he sees Jesus mystically as the Messiah, the Son of God.

The eminent 13th century theologian, Meister Eckhart, once said that Thoughts are our inner senses. When the inner senses are dull and blurred, you can see nothing in or of yourself; you become a respectable prisoner of received images.

Are we prisoners of prejudice, opinions, received images? In the words of St. Paul- “Live as children of the light.”  The Eucharist is our pool of Siloam.  We come here all the time with perceived images.  Today, Jesus asks us to wash our inner senses so that he can soothe us with Sacred Salve.  Some of us gladly wash.  Others among us grumble.  Still others refuse.  Well, until we do something about our blindness people will compare us to that office worker.  Until we do something about our preconceived notions of life, we will care more about egg sandwiches than about the kingdom of God.  And that is a shame!

The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.

4th Sunday of Lent Cycle A

Lenten purple




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