Today’s Scripture Readings
Well I suspect most of you recognize that we are close to the end of the liturgical Church year. Next Sunday is the celebration of Christ the King and then we start over with Advent. As the Church year comes to an end we hear all these stories about the end of the world and the dire signs that lead up to it. Today’s first reading is in this vein since it comes from the book of Revelation which talks almost exclusively about the end of time and the coming of Christ’s Kingdom.
My sense of today’s readings is that we will always need the help of God to see what we need to do. On our own we go astray but if we keep trying, God will reveal what we thought was hidden.
First of all, as I’m sure you know, the book of Revelation is not intended as prophesy about how the world will end. The writer uses a style known as apocalyptic to strengthen people who are afraid of what is going on at the moment and to encourage a certain way of living. In today’s language he’s trying to scare people straight. We are reading the very beginning of the book and the author is giving corrective instruction to one community of believers. The Ephesians have been steadfast in their faith and have avoided being led astray by false teachers but they have one crucial problem, they have lost the love they had at first. So John says they need to repent and do the works they used to do.
This is a great example of how we can get lost along the way. We start out with great intentions to do good and make the world a better place. But we get so caught up in the task before us that we lose the very thing that brought us to the work. We can’t afford to let the work overpower the love that prompts us in the first place. To accomplish what is truly important we have to stay focused on our source. A close, loving relationship with God only happens with persistence and trust.
This is where the story of the blind man of Jericho comes in. The blind man is the perfect example of persistence and trust. When he first calls out to Jesus for help the crowd tries to quiet him. His response is to call out all the louder so that Jesus will hear him. Once he is brought to Jesus, he is asked what he would like Jesus to do for him. Here again, he does not hesitate or go halfway. He says exactly what his need is, he wants to see. Jesus heals him because of his faith, his trust and persistence.
We need to be able to trust like that. To ask for what really needs healing. Too often, I believe, we are afraid to say what our deepest desire is because we don’t want to be disappointed. We’re afraid God isn’t going to be there for us and perhaps we’re afraid of what change might bring. Let us remember how throughout the Bible God responds to the poor, the outcast and the widow. At least part of the point of those stories is that when we need it most, when we feel lost, forgotten, abandoned that is when God is most likely to be there to lift us up, to heal what is broken in us and provide a lift that is likely to be surprising. Because we don’t always see the patterns we have adopted, the defenses we’ve built to protect what should be shared. In times when we recognize our own need, when we trust that God is the only real answer, that is the time we need to ask for exactly what is missing. To call out and know God will put us back in touch with what we need restoring our peace and the love that is most important to our life.