As I start this reflection I am sitting in an airplane in the
midst of a winter blizzard. The plane is being deiced. Due to the blowing
snow and fogged up windows, my vision of the outside activity is blurred.
As the deicing liquid washes across the windows, all is made clear and I
can view the activity on the runway. Proper vision, clarity of vision, that
is what today’s readings suggest to me.
In the first reading, Samuel was commissioned by God to seek out a new king
for Israel. He was advised not to use the obvious external standards of the
world in his selection, but rather the intangible, the unseen. For “God sees
not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearances, but the Lord looks
at the heart.” What is essential is seen by the heart. Handsome and ruddy
though David was, he was selected as king because of what could not be readily
seen by the human eye! He was anointed king because of what was in his heart!
We all have a need for proper vision, clarity of vision, to see things/persons
as God sees them. In the gospel the Pharisees judged the disciples
of Jesus by their outward actions, not their (unseen) intentions. The issue
was not the plucking of grain on the Sabbath. The heart of the question was
the Sabbath itself and Jesus, the “son of man,” as Lord of the Sabbath.
In the shadow of Christmas we recall that the great Christmas theme is “a
people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” We all live in both
light and shadow; we all live with a fogged-up vision. Jesus, in the gospels,
came to scatter the darkness and bring clarity of vision to those who believed.
He came so we could see with the heart and not just see the visible with
We all have distorted vision that prevents us from fully living out our faith
life. We can be blind to our own needs and the needs of others; blind to
expectations of parents, spouses, or children; blind to the demands of true
friendship; blind to our social responsibilities of justice; blind to the
reality of God working in you and around you.
We have distorted vision for many reasons -- all unique to each individual;
blinded by indifference or ignorance; blinded by stereotypes or first impressions;
blinded by one’s own image or sense of self-worth. One’s vision can also
be distorted by earlier decisions, dishonesty, or fear; fear which wears
We struggle daily to see what and how God sees. We struggle daily to have
clarity of vision. We struggle daily to have proper vision. As the Hebrew
scripture noted: “The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the
outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” What is essential is
seen with the heart.
When you have mastered that clarity of vision, like Samuel, you too, successful
in your quest, can stand up and “go to Ramah.”