Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
March 3, 2019
After several follow-up visits to the optometrist, complaining that her new glasses had not improved her vision whatsoever, my mother was finally referred to a specialist. The diagnosis was swift and devastating. Mom was suffering from age-related macular degeneration.
From there, another referral to a firm that helps sufferers understand, manage, and live with this “sight-stealing” disease. I was invited into the examination room with her so that I would be able to better appreciate the growing limitations that she would be experiencing. I was also cautioned that this disease is hereditary, so by learning to help my mother cope, I could, at the same time, learn ways to help myself in the future.
The sessions opened with the therapist showing us a number of slides simulating how vision is distorted for sufferers. For some, the peripheral vision becomes blurred. In other cases, the very center of what a person is focused on is blacked out. In addition to these types of limitations, my mother is extremely light sensitive. She is basically imprisoned in a dimly lighted room. It is a very devastating disease.
Through today’s Gospel, we learn about a spiritual breakdown that not only distorts our vision and limits our ability to see reality, but in extreme cases, can actually be life-threatening…ETERNAL LIFE THREATENING…that is.
Degeneration of TRUTH is a hereditary condition that is traced back to the original sin. This condition distorts the way we see others, blocking out what is good, and bringing into focus those things that we are critical of. This obstructed vision of others causes us to be judgmental and impatient or dismissive of what we see…or at least what we think we see.
Even more devastating, however, the degeneration of TRUTH impacts our self-perception. When we look into a mirror, our own faults and flaws and shortcomings are clouded over and obscured. When truth breaks down, we are left with a self-image that is prideful and hypocritical at best. In extreme cases, degeneration of TRUTH deceives us into believing that we are safe…moving in the right direction…in control.
Just as there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, there is no cure for degeneration of TRUTH. However, when we understand this predisposition to judge others and to misjudge ourselves, we are better able to manage and live with this “spirit-stealing” disease.
While in these earthly bodies, our vision will never be perfect. Sin has complicated our lives and confused our ability to know what is real…and good…and life-giving and everlasting. It is impossible for us to see the ultimate reality that God has ready for those who search for truth and try their best to live truth. However, truth is something we should never stop searching for because…Truth is Christ…and Christ is Truth.
And though we will never have perfect vision with earthly eyes, we can definitely improve our sight by moving out of the darkness of sin into the Light of Christ. The Gospel is like a lens that enables us to fill in those blank spots that block out the goodness in others, while, at the same time, preventing us from seeing our own flaws.
Lent is the perfect time to test our vision. It is an opportunity for enlightenment and purification. During these 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we can develop skills that enable us to compensate for the ravages to our sight caused by the degeneration of Truth. If we are serious about using the therapies of the penitential season, then on Easter Morning, we will find that we can see things in a new Light…The Light of Christ!