God in Christ is making new eyes in you, to see others and yourself as the beloved of God you and all God’s children are.
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
All Saints Sunday, year A
Texts: Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3:1-3
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Jesus once did a healing that didn’t take at first.
Mark says people brought a man who was blind to Jesus. Jesus did that strange thing he’d done elsewhere, took some of his spit and spread it on the man’s eyes. But when the man opened his eyes, things were blurry. “I can see people,” he said, “but they look like walking trees.” Jesus touched his eyes again, the man looked around, and saw everything clearly. The result was good, but at first this poor man must have thought the healing was a failure. (Mark 8:22-25)
I know that feeling. I first got glasses at age 7, and was very nearsighted, with an astigmatism. I hated wearing glasses. So about 20 years ago I had the LASIK procedure done. It was over quickly, and I was told to keep my eyes closed for a couple hours, so I took a three hour nap.
When I woke up, I panicked. Everything was blurry. I thought something must have gone wrong. Then I put my hand over each eye in turn. Both times the open one saw perfectly clearly. The problem was my brain hadn’t yet figured out how to process the new input. In a few hours my brain miraculously adjusted, and I was seeing 20-15.
This feels like how we live into Jesus’ words today.
The elder in 1 John today says we’re not yet fully revealed as God’s children, even though we are already God’s beloved children. You’re going to be like Christ, the elder says, but you’re not quite yet in focus. Either as you look at yourself, or as others encounter you.
And that blurriness is what Jesus’ words today feel like. In these beautiful verses, he describes a clear way of seeing and understanding people. Clear to him as God-with-us, God’s anointed, because it’s the Triune God’s way of seeing.
But when we look at what the Triune God sees so clearly, to our eyes it’s fuzzy.
For example, there are people who just don’t seem to have it in them. Faith is hard for them. Spiritual gifts seem to be lacking. They struggle to keep afloat mentally or spiritually. And we are taught to see such people as weak. Even in the Church, a struggle with faith is sometimes seen as a failing.
But God looks at people who are poor in spirit and says: they’re closest to my heart. They’re in God’s reign right now, even if they don’t know it. They are the blessed ones of God.
We all know people who grieve, who mourn. All of us have been there, and some of us, on a day like today, are in the midst of it. And we also grieve deeply for all those who are suffering and dying around the world. And while we are taught in this world to pity those who mourn, even pity ourselves, those who grieve are subtly pressured to get beyond it. Get over it. As if it’s a failing.
But God looks at people who are grieving and says that gives them a special gift. They know they need comforting, and so they will have it. What a blessing that is.
We live in a world, and if we’re honest we sometimes see things this way ourselves, that sees gentleness as a weakness. That sees mercy as a flaw. That sees peacemaking as naïve. We might call it being realistic, we might not even realize we’re doing it. But this world praises toughness, praises judging and hating, even praises violence – if it’s deemed necessary. And so often we call it necessary.
But God looks at people who are gentle with others and with the earth as the ones to whom the earth really belongs. It’s the way to life here. God sees those who show mercy as living in God’s heart. God sees those who make peace in their own lives and families as well as the world as the ones who are living most truly as God’s children. What a blessing they all are.
Do you want Christ to heal your sight so you can see as God sees?
It won’t happen overnight. Like Jesus’ odd two-part healing, changing your eyesight into God’s eyesight will take time. It might take your whole life. It’s the reality of life in a broken world. You might hear Jesus today and say, “I kind of see what you’re seeing, but it’s blurry. Sometimes I really do value strength and power and dominance, maybe because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t act in those ways. Because I’m afraid to trust that this is really my path, that this weak and vulnerable way is the way of life and hope. The way of the blessed.”
But be patient. You are already God’s beloved child, the elder says, even if you’e not fully revealed as Christ to others or even to yourself. Your healing has already begun. You’ve got God’s eyes to see, but maybe your brain hasn’t yet caught up, or your heart, or your actions. But with the Spirit’s grace, all will become more and more clear to you. Your heart will be made pure and you will even see God.
Because you are hungering and thirsting for this righteousness, and Jesus says you will be filled with it.
This is a difficult path in a world of loud, angry, hate-filled voices who lust for power and control.
If you see how this world sees, embracing the Triune God’s vision looks risky. Admitting you’re lacking a strong faith, or trying to be gentle or merciful or peaceable, or standing firm in your love of your neighbors near and far, all can expose you to ridicule from others. Or from yourself.
But not in this place. Here we’re all getting new eyes. Here we’ve met the God who is gentle and merciful and pure in heart, who hungers and thirsts for righteousness in you and in me and in this broken world, who longs for peace in this creation, who even faced a crisis of faith on the cross, who mourns for the suffering of all God’s children.
This is the God who sees and loves you as you are. Who wants you to see and love all as God does. Who is even now touching your eyes again to keep bringing things into focus. Until all are seen and loved and are themselves able to love and see.
In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen