The Gospel at Mass John 9:1-41, was a (long) version of the blind man who was healed by Jesus–with the clay, on the eyes, the washing in Siloam and BOOM. Eyesight. Followed by a grilling by the Pharisees and their indignation at Jesus actually having THE NERVE to heal on the Sabbath and therefore could not be of God. Because, the Sabbath. Rules. Regulations. All that. The no-longer-blind man’s bottom line: listen, all I know is I was blind, and now I see; Jesus healed me. Which had me focusing on the fact that Jesus can heal me. And you. and you. and you. The only kicker is we have to be present to Him and follow His instructions, even when they are simple. Which is tricky because we want everything to be so complicated and sometimes, it’s just not.
Fast forward to the seriously STRONG homily by one of our Deacons in which he flipped it onto us, the Church. When we come to Mass on Sunday, we listen, we go through the motions and then people EN MASSE routinely exit the church after receiving the Precious Body and Blood. They just keep on truckin’ out the door. (I don’t know if this occurs regularly in your church but it is a regularly HUGE occurrence in ours, to the tune of a 100 or so people performing this ritual each Mass) So, why do they come? Habit? Ritual? Obligation? To receive an eternal “insurance policy”? Because it doesn’t work that way; our deacon reminded us in the Scripture, Luke 13-26:27
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
Do we choose blindness in spite of the gifts Christ has for us? He awaits us every hour of every day, open arms, judgement free, love overflowing and yet……sometimes we are blind. Blind to the fact that it is not about putting in face time, we have to work at our relationship with Christ. We work at our marriage. We work at our friendships. We work on our parenting skills. Being Facebook friends with someone and not acknowledging their presence in real life doesn’t cultivate a relationship anymore than warming a pew on Sunday only to bolt after Mass to get the prime table for coffee and donuts afterward. Jesus wants a relationship with us and it takes effort. If we but follow His lead, we too, can see. And live. Not just trudge through. Because once upon a time, He led me through the darkness to the light, He held my hand in Mass as I wrangled 4 children to teach them the Faith and show them that even in the darkest of the dark He will never leave you. And I am living proof of that.
The Deacon invited all who didn’t have a legitimate reason to leave immediately following Holy Communion to go ahead and leave. Now. A woman behind us exited the pew…..but returned shortly (probably needed a tissue)…..aside from that I didn’t see anyone leave and it was a lot more crowded than usual after the final blessing than usual. It was a long overdue reminder and one I took to apply personally as well. If we can’t be present, 100% present in our intentions–because let’s be real, we all have distractions during Mass–but if our intentions aren’t 100% genuine, we need to reflect on WHAT we are doing. WHAT kind of relationship do we expect with Jesus if we treat him so casually? None of us is perfect and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had mind wander during Mass for a zillion and one reasons over my lifetime, but my intentions are genuine. He has held my hand. He has carried me through a haze of confusion and desperation and He washed clean my eyes and scrubbed my heart. He has shown me a life so vivid and full of hope that to live in any other way than to cultivate a relationship with Christ would be choosing blindness after seeing the light.
You see, once I was blind and now I see; that has made every difference in my life.