How someone see something often depends upon one’s viewpoint, perception, or vantage point:
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Did my team just blow a ten point lead and a sure victory — or the did the other team mount a great comeback?
Was the judge’s decision a fair interpretation of the law or a case of legislating from the bench?
I might think a meal lacks quality — and the man who hasn’t eaten since yesterday finds it a great treat.
The scripture this weekend challenges us to have an eye test — or rather a vision test.
In the first Book of Samuel [16:1, 6&7, 10-13] it is written: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as a man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.
St. Paul [Ephesians 5:8-14] reminds us that we were “once in darkness, but now we are light in the Lord.” We are light —- IN — the Lord.
In John’s Gospel [9:1-41] Jesus heals the man born blind — and later says — “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
This past October I had cataract surgery first in my left eye and then in the right eye. After about 4 weeks I saw clearer and brighter. I thought the colors on television were great — after surgery, the colors were brighter. The smaller print was sharper — for some vision, I see even better without glasses.
If only there was such a surgery for the heart and soul. If we could only see from the standpoint of the other —- then maybe there would be a little more compassion and understanding in the world. If I was assured others were willing and able to see from my standpoint, maybe I would be a little more honest and less defensive.
Some challenges are too great — as a 67 year old white guy —- I can’t quite see like a 67 year old black man raised in the inner city of Detroit. For sure, I have no concept of what it is like to see the world through the eyes of a man or woman who lives in a refugee camp with their children having escaped a war zone in South Sudan. I have no idea what it feels like to be “invisible.”
I am fortunate to have lived and worked in Chicago for almost three years — in a parish that had traditionally served the Black community. I am fortunate to have seen so much of our country — to have traveled across Europe, in Russia, in the British Isles, South America, and to Cambodia. Having lived and studied in Guatemala for three months gave me greater in-sight into the life experience of many in Central America.
There seems to be such discontent with political leadership — or the political system — because so many feel that leaders — or the system — is blind to their plight. A person — or a group of people — who feel unseen or ignored by those who claim to see will lead to anger, unrest, and a loss of hope.
I watch [see] the debate about affordable health care with the full knowledge that I have great insurance —- insurance that has benefitted me well for so many years. The challenge is to see what life — my life — would be like without insurance — in the past, present, or the future.
A great challenge for the week ahead would be to hear the challenge and to live the challenge given in the first Book of Samuel: not to judge by appearance.
Judging by appearance is the natural thing to do — but my natural sight is not so good. It is better because of surgery and CORRECTIVE LENSES.
We see someone whose hair color is not in “God’s color chart” — and we judge. I am guilty. I believe that to earn a job one must be “mainstream”, but hair color does not determine one’s goodness.
We see someone whose pants sag and we are offended — and we judge. I am guilty. I believe you dress for success, but sagging pants does not reflect one’s goodness.
If only — if only — I would take a little more time to try and see into the heart of the other. My opinion may not change and may not need to change —- but just maybe, I will come just a little closer to NOT writing them off — AND PRAYING FOR THEM AND HOPING GOOD for them. Maybe my openness might bring the change I see as needed. Maybe I will be just a little less convinced that my viewpoint is the right one — and give the other a chance.
Churches are torn these days because so many SEE homosexuality itself as a sin — while many in the same congregation SEE homosexuality as a non issue.
Churches are called to offer contemporary worship services and traditional worship services because of how people SEE “real, true” worship.
Families are experiencing tension because some see that we are following a good national political path —- and others see us walking a path to destruction.
What assimilation of immigrants means is SEEN differently across our country.
So, what am I saying:
- Take a deep breath — see with my eyes and with my heart — into the heart of another.
- Try and see things from the viewpoint of the other, i.e. walk in their shoes for a few days.
- Prayerfully ask: what might God be seeing here?
- Prayerfully ask: could I possibly see things differently?
- Finally, walk in the light — i.e. is the path I see before me leading to light or darkness.