Now I See

I think a lot of people will agree with what I’m about to say: As I grow older, darkness is not my friend.

Eight or nine years ago, my mother-in-law – who was a whippersnapper in her early 90s at the time, walked down her dark hallway to bed one night, ran into the ironing board she had forgotten was there, fell, and broke her femur bone. The good news is that she recovered and is getting ready to celebrate her 100th birthday in July. The bad news is, well, everything I said above, up to the good news part.

Darkness – and an awareness of what happened to Bill’s mom – is why Bill and I each keep a flashlight within easy reach by our bed so that we can click it on in the event we need to go to the bathroom. And we’re old, so that need arises often.

It’s rare that I fully understand the so-called theme of the scripture readings at the weekend Mass, but even I – as dense as a London fog on – yes – a dark night – understood that the theme this past weekend was light.

The Old Testament reading was the story of how God let his people know that David was his chosen King – the light of the Jewish people. The New Testament reading had the same theme. In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul told the folks in Ephesus, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord……..Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

But the reading that really hit home was the gospel from St. John in which he tells the story of Christ bringing sight to the man blind since birth. As Jesus spat on the ground to make mud with his saliva, he told the blind man, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” The man, who had been in the dark his whole life, suddenly could see everything, thanks to Jesus’ miracle. Jesus gave the man light because he IS light.

It made me think about all of the times that I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep because I begin worrying. Sometimes I worry about something specific – a health issue with one of our children or a problem one of our kids or grandkids might be having at work or school. Sometimes it’s more a general sense of doom. And I know you will all agree with me that THINGS LOOK WORSE AT NIGHT. I have literally spent hours worrying about something in the darkness, and when the sun rises, I think, “Really? I was so worried about that? It’s no big thing, really.”

Court and Kaiya enjoy the warmth and light of a fire at a family gathering.

St. John goes on to tell us that, upon the man suddenly being able to see, the Jews were beside themselves. They told the man that only God can perform miracles, and asked him how this mere mortal could make him see. Over and over again, the man told them he didn’t have a clue how it happened, but all he knew was that he had been blind from birth and now he could see. Maybe this mere mortal shouldn’t have been able to bring him sight, but he had. Because (say it with him) I was blind and now I see. Don’t get it. Can’t explain it. But there you have it. I couldn’t see. The dude rubbed mud in my eye and now I can see.

Just like the Jews, I always want answers to my questions. Why does Bill have Parkinson’s? Why does someone drive a car onto a bridge and kill people? Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s easy to blame things on God, just like the disciples at the beginning of the gospel when they asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Sin wasn’t the reason for the blindness, Jesus explained to them. Good would come from the blindness. And that reminds me that no matter how dark things get, Jesus will always bring light to me if I believe and pray. Because Paul reminds us that Christ promised that he would give us light. So in the same way that our problems seem to diminish in the daylight, Jesus, who is light, will bring us strength when we accept that he is our light.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Living Bread

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. – John 6:35

searchFor the past few weeks, the Catholic church took a break from the allegedly written-on-a-deadline Gospel of St. Mark to hear St. John’s discourse on the bread of life. Our gospel reading concluded at yesterday’s Mass, and I must admit the final part of that section of John’s gospel gives me a great deal of peace.

I’m going out on a limb with today’s blog post because it is not my goal to alienate any of my readers. I respect all of the different ways that people worship God. Still, Catholic Christians are very often belittled by other Christian faiths for our beliefs, and it seems like yesterday’s reading from John’s gospel provides some background on one of our most important teachings.

In his homily our pastor pointed out that Jesus tells his friends “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…..Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

In yesterday’s conclusion of the discourse on the bread of life, Jesus asks the people, “Does this shock you? The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

And it was true, because at that point a number of his followers stormed off in disgust. And, as our pastor pointed out, Jesus did nothing to try and dissuade them from leaving. He clearly did not say anything like, “Come back friends. I am not speaking literally. Everything I’ve just said is symbolic.” Instead, he let them leave. He turned to his closest friends and asked them, “Do you also want to leave?” They assured him that they were there until the bitter end because, as Peter said, “You have the words of eternal life.”

As Mylee would say, “Ta da!”

It doesn’t shock me that people have trouble believing that the bread and wine in which we partake every Sunday at Mass is the living body and blood of Christ. That concept is beyond our understanding. In fact, many Catholics, including those partaking in Holy Communion each Sunday, struggle with this idea. What really is surprising when you think about it is that even people like me who believe in our church’s teaching on transubstantiation take it so for granted. If my feeble little brain could really understand this mystery that our church teaches, at each Mass when the priest holds up the host and the wine, I should literally be falling to a prone position as the living God is raised before me. Instead, I pay attention as the priest blesses the bread and wine, and then my mind might wander to what time the Broncos are playing.

No matter what you believe about Holy Communion, it is comforting to know that God cares for us as he did the Israelites in the desert when he fed them with manna.

As an aside, yesterday’s conclusion to St. John’s bread of life discourse was accompanied by that ever-popular letter of St. Paul in which he tells women to submit to their husbands. For the most part, homilists avoid that one like the plague. Oh Paul. The good news is that it was offset by the beautiful words from the Old Testament Book of Joshua in which Joshua tells the Israelites, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve……As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

So, as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Amen. Alleluia.