Saturday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
Revelation 11:4-12; Luke 20:27-40
While I’m not a fan of most internet videos I come across, some are genuinely moving. One of my favorites is about a young man who is given a pair of glasses by his friends. They look like sunglasses, but are designed to correct colorblindness. His reaction after putting them on is priceless; seeing the depth, variation, and vibrance of the colors that have surrounded him his entire life, the man is overwhelmed and weeps for joy.
Today’s readings teach us that what that young man’s friends did for him, God does for us. He always has the perfect prescription for our spiritual vision.
Sometimes we lack the “depth perception.” God speaks and we see only the surface meaning; its depth eludes us. Take the Sadducees in today’s gospel, for example. They believed that what God revealed to Moses was all He had to say; since Moses said nothing about resurrection or eternal life, God said nothing about it. This is why Jesus took them back to that first encounter between God and Moses, to those words, I am the God… of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Exodus 3:6). By calling Him the God of the living, Jesus reveals the deeper meaning: To God and His children, there is no past, only present: I am, not I was. All are alive in Him.
For the Sadducees, and everyone of that time, this would have been a quantum leap in understanding. Not so for us; indeed, the Communion of the Church on Heaven and Earth is a fundamental part of the faith. At every Mass, we take time to remember all three groups; we ask for healing for those on earth, mercy for those being purified, and the intercession of the saints who have entered heavenly glory.
We may not suffer that particular depth perception problem, but we have enough of our own. For example, we all come across passages of Scripture or teachings of the Church that are hard to understand. (If that has never been true of you, then I challenge you to re-read the passage from Revelation we just heard.) The question is what we do when that happens. Do we stop asking questions, as the Sadducees and others did to Jesus?
I propose that God wants just the opposite; He wants us to ask questions about things that challenge us, and to persevere in our search for answers. It might take a while and definitely takes patience and effort on our part, but He has guaranteed that answers will come. Christ himself said it: … everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds (Luke 11:10).
Of course, he never guaranteed that we’ll like what we find, but that brings up another spiritual vision problem: shortsightedness. We can get so caught up in the details and problems of daily life that we lose sight of what we’re doing it all for. No wonder people despair or lose heart! But I think that’s why we have the reading from Revelation, to remind us that, although life can be full of bitter struggles and certainly ends in death, that’s not really the end: there is the glory of resurrection and the joy of eternal life. This is a lens through which God restores our ability to see the big picture; what matters to Him isn’t how we begin but how we end, and not who we conquer but who we trust in.
The joy of the colorblind man, as he first sees the world in living color, is infectious; it’s easy to shed a tear of joy watching him. That’s because joy is infectious. And the good news is that joy is all around us, because the opportunities are all around us to see the living God as if for the first time. Where? In Scripture, for every word is a chance to see God in a new and deeper way. In daily life, for every moment, in joy or sorrow, He is there, strengthening us and reminding us of the peace and glory that awaits. In every person we meet, for each one is created in His image and is waiting to be discovered; and in every encounter with the Blessed Sacrament, for each is a chance to come closer and closer to the deep and abiding presence of God, who is Joy itself.