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03/22/20 Fourth Sunday in Lent - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Fourth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 31

  • The Prophet Samuel reminds us today: “Not as man sees does God see,
    because man sees the appearance, but the LORD looks into the heart
    .”
  • The Pharisees were focused upon following the “Letter of their Law,” they had pre-set expectations for God – “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
  • They refused to look beyond the appearance of what they saw as a “grave infraction” of their law... and in doing so they missed the heart of the matter – They missed both the miracle and the Messiah
  • They were too busy judging what had happened, to fully appreciate what had happened...
  • For the Pharisees, things were either black or white, they were either within the law, or they were outside the law... the Pharisees were masters of what has been termed as categorical thinking...
  • Categorical thinking occurs when we refuse to acknowledge that some things in life are neither black nor white, but rather shades of gray...
  • Categorical thinking occurs when we refuse to understand that everything and everyone in life cannot be neatly labeled and categorized to fit compactly into our personal worldview...
  • How easy it is to simplify everything and everyone around us until they all fit into neat categories that give us a false sense of security and superiority...
  • How easy it is for us to become like the Pharisees… to judge only on appearance based solely upon our expectations, our prejudices, and our preconceived notions, rather than choosing to be open to the possibility that we may not have all the facts… that we may not have all the answers… and that God may be trying to teach us something here...
  • How easy it is for us to miss the miracles in our own lives because they don’t necessarily fit into our personal expectations of God...
  • God has always been, and will always be, (on this side of heaven)… a mystery...
  • Categorical thinking limits God... and God will not be limited by our limited understanding of Him...
  • In many ways the Pharisees suffered from a more severe form of blindness than the blind man – Although the Pharisees were not physically blind, they were spiritually blind... and unfortunately; spiritual blindness is not unique to the Pharisees, because we all suffer from various forms of spiritual blindness in our own lives...
  • The blind man was free of predispositions, prejudices, and expectations - He was open to the miracle that awaited him...
  • The blind man didn’t limit God’s power or try to “put God in a box” – Instead, he remained open to the wonder and the mystery of the moment with an open heart...
  • The same wonder and mystery that we can each find in our own lives, when we let go of our expectations and our predispositions, and open ourselves to what God wants to bring us...
  • The blind man trusted Jesus, and what Jesus wanted to do for him...
  • He was both frustrated and amazed at the obstinance of the Pharisees in their refusal to see the miracle for what it was...
  • Despite their calculated inquisitions, the blind man simply told them what he experienced:  “One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
  • He wasn’t hung up on proving the Pharisees wrong... he wasn’t intent on winning a theological debate... he simply stated what he experienced, because he was a humble man who wasn’t interested in trying to save his pride in front of the Pharisees...
  • Their expectations, their categorical thinking, their refusal to be open to God working in ways that they had never before witnessed - All of these things blinded them to both the miracle and the Messiah in their midst...
  • How often are we so intent upon proving that we’re right, in defending our pridethat we miss the miracle right in front of us?
  • In today’s society, it’s become a “social sin” to admit that we might have been wrong about something...
  • To change our views is often considered an admission of fallibility, or weakness in our world...
  • We can be labeled a “flip-flopper,” when in fact we’ve merely come to see a situation differently… that our perspective has changed… and that perhaps we too have changed
  • We all need the freedom to be wrong in our lives...
  • To admit that we’re not God... that we are not infallible... and that we need to remain open throughout our lives to learn new things, to change, and to be open to new experiences...
  • Change is what our continuous transformation into the very image of Christ is all about…
  • When we refuse to be open to others, when we refuse to re-evaluate issues from another’s point of view, when we remain rigid and refuse to acknowledge the facts: We’re guilty of pride… the same pride that the Pharisees exhibited in today’s Gospel...
  • None of this is promoting moral relativismRight and wrong still exist
  • What it suggests is that before we make a judgment, we need to have an open mind and look at all the facts available to us…
  • We need to take the time to try to put ourselves in the other’s shoes and try to see the issue from their perspective…
  • It means that we must train ourselves to respond to situations, rather than react to them without much forethought…
  • The blind man was not only humble and receptive to accept and see the miracle for what it was, but he was also able to let go of his expectations and accept Jesus for what He wasThe Messiah...
  • When we think in categorical terms, when we remain rigid, and refuse to be open to other points of view… We limit GodWe limit His Creation… and we limit our ability to see God and His miracles in our midst...
  • When we can finally come to the realization that God will do what God wills, (with or without our advice or consent), and learn to just be present to the situation at hand - Then we’re on our way to having our eyes “opened,” in order to see beyond appearance into the heart...
  • And like the blind man, once we begin to see into the heart of each person and each situation... We’ll begin to see and appreciate the miracles that are all around us...

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