Giving Glory to God: The Fourth Sunday of Lent
We continue our path through the Season of Lent with the introduction of David into the history of Israel. There is a lesson here about the distinction between external appearances and what lies within, in the heart of a person. 1 Samuel tells us that Samuel, like many of us, was concerned with the outside appearance or externals of the one chosen by the Lord.
But the Lord cautioned him to be careful. The Lord looks on the heart, not on the outside appearance. After the rejection of the first seven sons of Jesse of Bethlehem, we hear about the youngest son, the keeper of sheep. David "was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome." He is the chosen one. David is anointed king.
However, we must be wary of making conclusions based on the selection of a handsome and beautiful person. The powerful Gospel account of the blind man reveals that the "imperfect" can just as easily be an instrument of God. Jack Lynch, SFM, points out in the Living with Christ commentary for the 4th Sunday in Lent, that "Jesus sees in the blind man someone with great potential who moves from a world of darkness to collaborate with Jesus."
Jesus names the simple truth: "he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him." I am slightly disappointed that the blind man is healed. I hope that he never forgets the experience of blindness, the experience of groping and being dependent on others.
I occasionally wonder what I would have been like if all of the effects of my brain tumour were wiped out in 2003: my flawed hearing and sight, my imbalance, and so forth. I am a much more "human" human being as a result of my flaws. I am convinced that I've been able to use my post-tumour "imperfections" to give glory to God.
People who are damaged don't give glory to God in the actual imperfection. They give glory to God by using their human imperfections to do great things for God. TED talks and the Internet are full of wonderful stories of women and men who do not allow themselves to be limited by their flaws and imperfections. To be honest, I'm reluctant to speak of imperfections and flaws. The well-known Leonard Cohen line reminds us that it is through the crack that the light gets in.
I referred last week to Fr. John Veltri, SJ. John spent many of his most productive and creative years confined to a wheelchair. So far as I know, he never used that fact to garner sympathy from people. The wheelchair set limits on what he was able to accomplish with his body.
As a matter of fact, most people who used his material probably had no idea that he was confined to a wheelchair. But his spiritual wisdom is very much rooted in the life experience of dealing with muscular dystrophy.
How do we use our bodily and mental flaws to allow God's grace to shine through us? Many scientists and medical people do all they can to eliminate flaws in people, the ones that they are born with and the ones that they develop. The Special Olympics offer another perspective.
And what about those flaws that develop as we age? How can I live in a positive way with the aging process? Just yesterday I sat across from someone at Starbucks. She seemed ancient and relied on a walker. But she held on to a spirit of independence and was fully engaged with her companions (they appeared to be her grandchildren on March break).
How do we embrace the aging process with grace and dignity? Many poems and stories offer much better images that grasp us. Saint Irenaeus reminded us that the fully alive person gives glory to God.
Let's reflect this Lenten week on how we allow ourselves to give glory to God.