Sunday, March 6, 2016

HOMILY 3-6-16



If you were blind,   that would not be  a  sin. But
 since you say you can see, when you are actually
             blind, you remain in your sin.         
   JOHN 9:41

Tyler Perry is a successful African-American playwright, actor and screenwriter. Perry attributes his success to what he calls “spiritual progress,” especially the “spiritual progress” that resulted in making peace with his own father.  One of his profound insights was around learning that “parents do what they know how.” He finally realized that he could not change his history with his father, but he could change the way he wanted to remember it! “My life changed,” he said, “once things changed in me.!"

I, too, had to learn how resentment kept me stuck and how I could free myself by choosing to “see in a new way.” “Choosing to see in a new way” is like letting yourself out of prison, cutting your own chains, throwing off a heavy load. Like Tyler Perry, it was only when I chose to “see my past in a new way” that I could no longer be a victim of it.

We cannot do anything about our pasts, but we can choose whether we want to be its victim. Once I began to understand that my Dad “did what he knew how,” I was able to move from anger to compassion. I thank God that I was able to bury all that resentment, even before I buried him!

“Seeing in a new way” is exactly the conclusion Jesus came to in his search for clarity during his forty days in the desert.  Coming out of the desert, he began to preach “conversion.” “Metanoiete” means “change the way you see!” Change the way you look at things and heaven will open up to you.   Once things change in you, things around you will look very different.”  The devil tried to get Jesus to change things. Jesus resisted that temptation. Instead, Jesus called for an internal change within people, believing that if people would change inside, things outside them would also change.

Today we have a wonderful story about a bunch of blind people: one who can’t see and others who won’t see. All of them need Jesus in order to be able to “see in a new way.”  In this wonderful story, Jesus uses the occasion of healing physical blindness to tell us something about the healing of spiritual blindness, the inability to “see in a new way.”

The man born blind, not only regains his physical sight, but step-by-step he begins to see Jesus in a new way. At first, he says he doesn’t know who this Jesus is who healed him. As the story unfolds, he calls Jesus a “prophet” and finally “Lord.”

The Pharisees and his parents can see physically, but they are spiritually blind and refuse “to see in a new way.” The Pharisees are blinded by their own rigid religious structures. They can’t see the beauty of this great healing, a blind man getting his sight. All they can see is that the healing  took place on the Sabbath day and healing was illegal on the Sabbath day. The parents are blinded by their fear of being ostracized by neighbors, friends and organized religion if they admitted to this healing. They conveniently choose not to know and not to see. “Ask him,” they say, “he is old enough to speak for himself.” Both Pharisees and parents are afraid of “seeing in a new way” because it would mean their cozy little routines would be disrupted. It was convenient for them not to see and so they remain stuck in their chosen blindness.

I am amazed when I talk to stuck people. I believe that most people who are stuck are basically people who are blinded by their inability to “see in a new way.” They whine and cry and wait to be rescued, but they cannot change their minds and look at their situations from a new angle. They can’t “let go” of their old way of thinking and seeing, and so they remain stuck in their blindness. They are like the monkeys I read about several years ago. To catch these monkeys for the zoo, people would cut a hole in a tree, just small enough for a monkey to his hand into. Then they fill it with peanuts. When the monkey sticks his hand into the hole and grabs the peanuts, he can not pull his hand back out. Instead of letting go of the peanuts, they howl and cry till someone comes and hauls them off to the zoo. All they had to do was to let go of the peanuts and their hand would slide out again. People are a lot like that: they cannot let go of the things they hang onto, the way they see things and so they remain trapped, whining and crying all the while.

Some people simply cannot “let go” of the way they see things. They clutch at beliefs like: life ought to be fair, parents ought to be perfect, spouses should not let each other down, the church ought to be perfect, things ought to make sense and people ought to respect you, love you and meet your needs. And, of course, when life isn’t fair, when parents and churches aren’t perfect, when spouses let them down, when things don’t make sense and when people do not meet their needs, they fall apart and remain stuck in their belief that if they just don’t like it enough, it will go away. All they would have to do to free themselves is to “let go” of their old beliefs and “see things in a new way.”

Jesus was right, “If you are physically blind, there is no sin in that, but when you choose to be blind, your sin remains, you keep your own suffering going.”  Tyler Perry is right, too, when he says, “My life changed once things changed in me.”

What about you? What situations do you need to “look at” in a new way? What people do you need to “look at” in a new way? Is the way you have been “looking at” these situations and people still causing you pain? If so, ask God for healing! Ask God for a new set of eyes! Once things change in you, life will change for the better for you!


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