On YouTube, there are funny videos of people being startled by a man dressed up as a bush. Yep, I said a bush. This guy has a “bush suit” and he sits in a BIG pot on a busy sidewalk and stands up quickly as people walk by. That’s it. He just stands up (okay, once in a while he will reach out) and passersby will jump, yelp, and scream! I think some of what makes it funny is what the viewer realizes about themselves: we would jump and yelp as well. The key to the “bush guy” success is not his incredible bush suit, though that is nice; but rather the fact that the people passing by don’t see a sitting man, they see a bush. No one expects a bush to jump up or a man to inhabit a bush. Their (our) perspective excludes these possibilities, so they don’t see him.
The perspective from which we look at things has a huge influence on how we see them. Friend or foe, useful or trash, lovely or disturbing, determination of a thing is a product of our perspective. By the same token, that we can see a thing at all is also based on our perspective. Living as a Christian, how we follow Christ in today’s world is all about perspective too. It’s about the way we choose to see ourselves and the world around us. It’s about looking at the world through the lens of Christ. And while other lenses may distort or mislead us in what we see, viewing the world through the lens of Christ, corrects our natural distortions and helps us to see life more clearly as it truly is.
St. Paul traveled with young Timothy on his second and third missionary journeys teaching and mentoring him in the faith. As Paul prepared to leave Ephesus after living there for three years, he appointed Timothy as overseer (bishop). No matter the distance, though, Paul would remain Timothy’s spiritual father and would write him about matters of faith.
Paul wrote his second Letter to Timothy to encourage him and remind him of the reason why he (Timothy) was there: “He has saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but by His own purpose and by the grace He granted us in Christ Jesus before time began” (1:9). St. Paul was pointing out that Christ’s plan and sacrifice was in place before time even existed! Paul reminded Timothy that only with this perspective could he maintain his life and ministry.
Looking at life through that lens transforms everything.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3
In this Gospel lesson, Jesus uses a blind man to give true sight to those who can already see, kind of. The man referenced in this passage was born blind. From infancy, it became clear that he didn't have the capacity for natural vision. This man did not have any perspective on the world through sight; his ability to consider and understand was severely limited by his affliction. Jesus tells us that, though we have physical eyesight, we may still be spiritually blind and unable to see his presence in our lives.
Everyone everywhere sees their life through a particular lens. We all have a worldview that influences how we interpret our circumstances and surroundings. Our worldview impacts the way we value other people. Our worldview also influences the way we choose to make use of the time we've been blessed with.
At one time in our lives, we lived in ignorance. We were ignorant of some of the deepest realities that we were surrounded with all the time. It's likely that we lived in ignorance to who we were really created to be. We lived in ignorance about the purpose of our experiences. We lived in ignorance toward the suffering of others. In general, we lived in ignorance to the bigger picture of God's divine plan.
But Jesus came to offer us the privilege to begin to see things in a new light. Through faith in Jesus Christ, our eyes are opened to things that we didn't have the capacity to gain a full understanding of through natural means. Jesus enables us to see things differently, and as He does so, the manner in which we choose to live our lives can't help but be impacted as well.
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
“The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:24-33
There were real consequences for this man who trusted in Christ and obeyed Him: he was excommunicated from the synagogue. But that shame was nothing compared to the joy of knowing and worshipping Christ. This man who had been blind could now see things, not only physically, but on a deeper spiritual level as well. He had come to know His Creator and Savior in a personal and permanent way. He would never see things the same again.
Christ offers us the privilege to see things in a new way, even though we're continually bombarded with messages and influences in this world that try to keep our hearts and minds anchored in lesser things. We can see our sources of discomfort and trouble in a new way. We can view the time we've been given from a new perspective. We can continue to trust Jesus even if He asks us to do something out of the ordinary, and we can cooperate with Him, instead of trying to resist Him when He stretches us in new ways so we can adopt His manner of seeing things as our manner of living. He has given us spiritual sight to see Him with us as we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28
Live every moment seeing Christ and knowing you are blessed.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Matthew 13:16-17
Father Bill Burk†