Daily Reflection
September 5th, 2000
John O'Keefe
Theology Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

First Corinthians 2:10-16
Psalms 145:8-14
Luke 4:31-37

Few would argue that things like radio waves and ultraviolet light do not exist because they are unseen.  We know that they exist because the former can be harnessed to carry music while the latter can burn our skin on a sunny day.  Still, our natural human faculties are unable to perceive these things.  Indeed, the world is full of things “seen and unseen,” to recall the words of the creed.  As I age, reality seems to grow in complexity.  There are things in the world I will never understand, even when perceived, and there are things I will never know simply because I do not notice their existence.  Human perception is fragile and extremely limited.

The people in Capernaum were limited as we are.  They may have known that the man in the story had an unclean spirit, but they did not know what, or who, that spirit was.  They could not name it or really recognize it.  But Jesus could.  His intimacy with the Father gave him a kind of perception that others lacked.  He could see with the mind of the Father, recognizing the spiritual contours of the world as easily as we recognize the physical contours of our own landscape.  And so he could command the unclean spirit to leave the possessed man while the man’s neighbors could barely recognize that it was there.

But, as the psalmist writes, “the Lord is gracious and merciful,” and, according to Paul, the limitations of our spiritual perception have been overcome by God’s gracious gift of self.  We can perceive God because we have received “the Spirit of God” and “the mind of Christ.”  In a way, these things are like new organs of perception allowing us to recognize the spiritual realities that surround us but to which we are naturally blind.

Paul does not say this, but in the Christian tradition the practice of using this organ of spiritual perception is called discernment.  Perhaps, in time and through prayer, we might learn to see as Jesus sees.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Online Ministries
Home Page
for Sunday
Online Retreat
Daily Readings Texts
from the
New American Bible
Daily Readings Texts
from the
RSV Bible
Spirituality Links
Saint of the Day
Collaborative Ministry Office 
Home Page
University Ministry
Home Page
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook