Daily Reflection
January 20th, 2004
John Schlegel, S.J.
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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 the eye.

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 many faces.

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.”


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