Thursday, December 03, 2015

Open the Eyes and Ears of My Heart, Lord

Colleen O’Sullivan
Thus says the Lord God:  But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest!  On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.  (Isaiah 29:17-18)

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!”  When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”  “Yes, Lord,” they said to him.  Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  And their eyes were opened.  (Matthew 9: 27-30a)

Lord, open the eyes and ears of my heart that I might see and hear you and all that you love.

As the December days grow shorter and darkness creeps up on us earlier and earlier, we find ourselves longing for light.  It is Advent, the season when we prepare our hearts to welcome the Light of the World.  These weeks are a time for self-examination.  Are we truly ready to receive the Lord, whether today, on Christmas Day, or on the day he returns in glory?

In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah is speaking to a discouraged people.  He tells them there is something wonderful to hope for.  Our God says to expect great things.  The time will come when the cedars of Lebanon will become an orchard, and that orchard will then be transformed into a forest!  The deaf will be able to hear and the blind will be able to see.  God will lift up the lowly and the poor.  The arrogant will disappear.

Most of my life, I’ve taken such promises very literally.  The day will come when there will be no more disease, no more handicaps or physical disabilities.  But maybe God is also talking about the deafness and blindness that affect even those of us who can pass an audiologist’s test with flying colors or who can read even the tiniest lines on an eye chart with no problem.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re often deaf to God’s word, or at least selectively hear only the parts of it we want to hear.  We’re sometimes deaf to the cry of the poor, because we’re so consumed with the things we want (and tell ourselves we need).  We’re deaf to the pleas of those around us for love and affection, because we’re so busy with our own agendas.

We’re sometimes blind to the overwhelming love and compassion God has for us, so we fail to love ourselves or take care of ourselves as precious children of God.  We’re blind to all we have to be grateful for.  We’re blind to the plight of the lowly right here in Northern Virginia or in faraway places around the globe.  We close our eyes to the suffering of the tens of millions of homeless refugees wandering throughout the world in search of a safe place to live.

If we desire to be healed and transformed, there is hope.  Simply follow the example of the two blind men in today’s Gospel reading.  Turn to Jesus and cry out to him, “Son of David, have mercy on me.  Heal my deafness and my blindness.”  If we believe that Jesus can do that for us, we will find ourselves seeing and hearing things we never have before and being moved to respond.

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