Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reflection on Ambiguities

John 9:24-25
So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, "God should get the glory for this,because we know this man Jesus is a sinner."
"I don't know whether he is a sinner," the man replied. "But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!"

"Jesus... undercuts the facile conviction that we know with certitude what moral good and evil actually are." - Thomas Keating

Sometimes I feel lost in the ambiguities of life and my own blind spots. There are often times when I don't even know the right action to take in a certain situation--never mind the times of willful sin. Perhaps we try to put life, morality, theology, relationships into boxes in which they were never meant to fit. Christians sometimes have some sort of fascination with their own grasp of Absolute truth--but it seems to me that more properly, the Absolute has a hold of us. How can we absolutely know anything, even ourselves? I'm not advocating some sort of relativism; we can, in fact, know God truly, through relationship, but never exhaustively.

For these ambiguities, I feel at home in this chapter. I'm struck by the abounding misconceptions of so many, which gives me some hope. Those who should be seeing are perhaps the most blind. It begins with the disciples asking the question of who has sinned in order to cause the man to be blind; having witnessed Jesus' previous healing, they assumed that sin was always the cause of sickness, but here it seems that this is not the case; life, here, did not fit their previously constructed formula. Later, the Pharisees believe Jesus to be a sinner, mostly for doing a good work; and it takes the blind man who they say was born "a total sinner" to offer them a lesson of who Christ is, standing not on rational argument, but his experience of being healed. Though he was blind, now he sees.

Finally, Jesus comes back to the man and reveals to him more fully His own identity as the Son of Man. The man believes and worships Him. The chapter ends with Jesus' indictment against the Pharisees, who claim to see and yet are blind. It would have been better for them to recognize their own blindness. Jesus may need to return to us often and reveal more of his identity: his love and his grace and his discipline--at times--in our lives. I try not to be like the Pharisees who felt that they knew all there was to know, and thus condemned themselves, but instead remain aware of my limitations. I recognize the truth of my relationship with Christ (indeed, it's the most important aspect of my life!), but long for continual communion and growing in this relationship, knowing that I will never absolutely comprehend Him.

-John Orzechowski

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Contemplation and Work

Soldiers don't get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. - 2 Tim 2:4-6

"...go to work for God, trusting that if we seek only to do His will, He will take care of our interior recollection, and make up for the distractions and failings that may creep into our activity." - Thomas Merton

The cares of everyday life cause me so often to lose sight of what is important. Papers and exams--all for a degree, a piece of paper that seems to have little to no eternal significance. But this is where we're called to be and doing these things can become an act of worship. God actually can be present in all of our daily activities, even outside of our conscious awareness. He is in everything and everywhere after all.

Alas, I'm not the good soldier who doesn't get tied up in the affairs of civilian life or a very good athlete for that matter. But Paul goes on to say that even "If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful" (v. 13). Merton says that if we seek to do His will, He will take care of the rest. At some point, we must realize that it was never about our own efforts to reach God anyway; He is already here, in us. Even the desire to be more spiritual (whatever that means) is often selfish. I try to lay aside the frustrations I have with myself when I desire to be more heavenly-minded and less distracted; for to violently fight against distraction and actively seek an awareness of God will do no good; this awareness is a gift, and God will give it whenever and to whomever He wishes. Instead, boast in our weaknesses and embrace our poverty, finish our work with gladness and never lose trust in God who always remains faithful.

-John Orzechowski

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