Homily, Lenten Sunday 3A
Personally, I’ve had a long history of problems with my vision. I was only in first grade when I was fitted for my first pair of glasses. I switched to contacts while in school and sports, but these would eventually start to irritate my eyes. My latest pair of glasses I ordered online for a fraction of the usual cost. A couple of my brothers now have had laser eye surgery, but I might wait a while for that. The interesting thing about almost always having corrective lenses is that most of the time, we don’t even realize how blurry our vision is until after we get a new prescription. We just get used to not seeing things so well, but then with a new pair of glasses, it’s like we suddenly realize again that trees have individual leaves on the branches, and we see blades of grass, or perhaps more distressing, we might suddenly notice ants or spiders crawling around in our rooms at home. The whole world comes at us again in stunning detail and high definition.
Now the man in today’s Gospel is not just seeing clearly again, having his sight restored, but is seeing things for the first time in his life. Because the man was born blind and now receives from Jesus a whole new kind of vision that he had never experienced before, this healing has always been a sign to us of the gift of faith, a whole new spiritual vision that God gives to us, to see things according to God’s perspective. We receive the eyes of faith at our Baptism, but if we fail to really nourish our faith, if we focus exclusively on trivial things, only the here and now, without keeping them in the context of eternity, we run the risk of becoming rather nearsighted in faith.
How much of our time and energy do we invest into things that are really rather pointless and trivial, things that quickly pass away? Video games, sports teams, movies and television, the music we listen to. And how does that compare with the amount of time or energy that we give to prayer, to fostering our relationship with God that will hopefully last forever? How much do we invest in really learning Christ, learning not just the teachings of the Church but also the reasons behind them? How much do we really strive to understand our Catholic faith and grow to love it and live it, to learn the Scriptures and the history and Tradition of the Church, and to act upon this knowledge?
Now I played sports in high school. I ran track, played football and basketball. I probably enjoyed basketball the most, but to me they always remained sports, games, things that were meant to be fun. Sports can also teach important lessons of the value of discipline, hard work, setting and reaching goals, but I’ve always been very critical of our culture’s level of obsession with sports and performance. It’s one thing to play sports at our leisure and to learn the lessons that the game teaches to those who play, but it’s another thing entirely to have a whole culture and several industries centered around professional, college, and high school athletics. To have so much attention and pressure focused, that someone’s injury could lead them to question their entire identity and purpose in life. It’s not healthy, and it needs to change.
If Catholics and people of faith are unwilling to question and challenge the misguided values of the culture around us, if instead we just let ourselves be swept up into the madness, we fail in our prophetic mission, and we risk losing sight ourselves of what’s truly most important and lasting, in life and in death. God grant us the lens of faith to see everything more vividly in the perspective of eternity and the account that we must render to God for every idle word and vain pursuit.