Scripture reflections – Sunday April 3rd

1Sm 16:1b; 6-7; 10 -13a;  Eph 5:8-14; Jn9:1-41

“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.”

These words from the first reading in which the prophet Samuel is sent by God to anoint the unlikeliest of Jesse’s sons.  They are about as basic a truth of the spiritual life, of life in general, that human beings have gleaned during the entire course of history.

You can certainly make a strong case that virtually none of us really believe this.  Just consider how many billions of dollars are spent on cosmetics, fashion, spin doctors, sound bites, advertising, publicity, and gossip magazines, all of which are almost exclusively focused on appearances.  And I haven’t even touched upon the myraid ways style can be promoted over substance on the internet.

Religion isn’t innocent either of course.  Hypocrisy run amok in religious instituions is a long-running theme in world literature – featured in these week’s readings by the attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees who will not acknowledge Jesus’ miracle because they don’t like Jesus.  How many bishops chose to cover up the sex abuse crisis in the Church because they judged that maintaining the appearance of holiness  was more important than actually confronting evil?

Oh, yeah, one more thing.   How often is my willingness to speak the truth I see influenced by concern over what people will think of me? 

OK, my kvetching is over for now.  Here’s a thought I’m going to try and carry with me through this next week of Lent.  For just one moment, can I look at myself the way that God sees me?  And can I do the same for one other person? For just one moment?

Can you?

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To purchase copies of my full-length reflections on scripture, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com)

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