Thursday, March 23, 2006

"I am the Light of the World." (Jesus in John, Chapter 9)

Note to all who come to "Parish World" every week to find out why there is "No Crying at My Funeral": The Gospel stories from St. John that are told every year in church are my favorites.

They are there purposely to remind us what it means to SEE God. The Samaritan Woman, SEES God, and spreads the WORD; the Man Born Blind, SEES God and the Temple Executives remain blind; Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, SEE God while the some of the Jews stand around and ridicule God and then hold a meeting to decide how to get rid of Him. The Church presents these stories to us every year to remind us that God shows Himself to us in a lot of ways. " is so that the works of God may be made visible through them" (Jn. 9: 3)

Jesus opens up the Samaritan Woman's eyes by telling her "...everything I have ever done." When she communicates this to her townmates, they follow her to see this phenomenon. They finish by SEEING and Jesus stays in their village for two more days. The miracle of this is that these people weren't orthodox Jews. In fact the Woman herself disparages Jesus when she says, "our ancestors worshipped on the mountain, but you people say that the place to worship is Jerusalem." Before the day was out, not only she but all her townmates had been converted.
The work of God was bearing fruit through her.

Jesus opens up the eyes of the Man Born Blind through the sacramental act of making mud with his spit and rubbing it on the Man's eyes then sending him to wash it off in the Siloam Pool. Here again Jesus religious practices are attacked, not by the simple people, but by those in charge of the Temple. He broke the law by working on the Sabbath. The behavior of the leaders does nothing to open the eyes of the members of the Temple to the works of God, but the Man Born Blind and the Witnesses of the event are beginning to SEE. They are the work of God. Finally, Jesus slams the leaders of the Temple by telling them, "...if you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you are saying 'We see', so your sin remains."

Jesus opens up the eyes of his disciples and of the sisters of his friend Lazarus as well as some of the witnesses. In this story Jesus graphically predicts His own resurrection, and ours, by raising his friend from the dead. Those who witness the are divided into those who SEE and those who think they see, but are blind to God. These last are driven to plotting His death. Those who SEE praise Him and continue to be instruments of His spiritual works.

The miracles of Jesus are performed in the light of day. The miracles of Jesus are meant to turn on the lights in our hearts and minds. The miracles of Jesus are missionary acts that point the way to God. The miracles of Jesus are meant to awaken missionary zeal in those who SEE. The miracles of Jesus always polarize the witnesses. One element of the glory of the works of God is that through the polarization of His people, He is always glorified. Only God can do this. God does not fear polarization, He makes it a weapon in His Divine arsenal. Jesus Himself said, "I did not come to bring peace, I came to bring the sword." and also, "Because of me father will be set against son and mother against daughter..." Yet, God's glory shines.

Finally, the Church tells us these three stories every year because they illustrate the power of the miracle to recruit disciples. The Church wants us to know that the miracle of conversion is a call to discipleship. To be Catholic is to SEE. To SEE is to be a messenger of God. To SEE is to be living in the Kingdom of God and to be ready to invite everyone else to the party. To SEE is to be living in the light of God's day and not stumbling around in the dark of Satan's night.

I invite you all to make these stories the core of your lives. If you do, you'll know that there is no need to cry at my funeral.
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