4th Lent [A] 2001

Fr. Charles Irvin

1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

We learn to see. We don’t remember it now, but when we were babies we had to learn how to see. People born blind who are, because of surgery or because of shock, or for whatever other reason, now able to see must learn to see. Their brains have to be programmed to interpret the data received through the optic nerve.

There comes a point in life when we program ourselves to see only what we want to see. We focus only on what we consider to be good looking, or that which we think will make us appealing to others. We see only what we want to see. We can turn art into pornography. And we can see beauty in what others think is ugly. Mother Teresa taught us that.

We have to learn how to see art. If you go to an art gallery and really want to see what’s there you need to have an educated guide who has studied art and art history to take you on a tour, a tour that can turn into an adventure. It all depends upon how you see what you’re looking at.

You have to learn to see a baseball game. You have to learn to see a drama. You can look at those things and not see what is being presented even though you think you see everything that’s being offered.

And you have to learn to see symbols.

As for your family? Well, you can brush aside what you don’t want to see, focusing only on what you want to see. Ever known someone who can only see what’s bad? Who sees only your mistakes? Do you yourself see only what’s wrong in you? God doesn’t see you that way.

Men can be blind to what women want and need. Husbands can be blind to their wives’ need for attention, for affirmation, to be told they are pretty or beautiful. Wives can be blind to their husbands’ need for affirmation, their need for appreciation, their need to be respected.

Ray Charles, the famous Jazz musician, wrote a wonderful song that goes: “You are so beautiful. You are so beautiful to me. You are everything I hoped for. You are everything I need. You are so beautiful to me.” And Ray Charles was born blind from birth! He did, however, learn how to see. He learned how to see with his soul.

All of us, whether we are sighted persons or unsighted persons, need to learn how to see with the eyes of our souls. We’re blind to grace. We’re blind to goodness. We’re blind to wonder, to awe, to mystery, to the souls in those around us. Suppose you were asked to take a look at the soul of someone near and dear to you and then to tell us what you see? What would you point out to us?

But thanks to God’s amazing grace, all of us who were once blind can now see. The famous hymn by John Newton sings out to God:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long a life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise then when we’d first begun.

We learn to see… and as we grow and become self-sufficient we learn to see only what we want to see. We can become blind to what’s really out there in front of us. That’s why Lent is a time to re-flect… to see the reflection of who we are and how we appear in the eyes of God. Lent is a time of scrutiny, a time to see others and ourselves in the eyes of God. For that is the only way to be cured of our own blindness.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”