Light as a theme in the middle of Lent. Interesting. And deeply personal. A reminder that seeing and vision are far from the same, and knowing who and how to trust are simply part of learning what it really means to see. Embracing reality is a huge part of seeing the light, and realizing that what is seen is not always what it seems. How do we do it? How can we live attentive to the Light?

In so many ways, life is immersed in Light and replete with gifts of light like friends. Friendships, in the deepest and truest sense of the relationship, requires openness and trust, a deeply held confidence in other and a deeply held consciousness of self. Learning to trust can be a lifetime’s task for some; it can be a jagged edge for those who have been hurt and lstill recover. Trust is more than a one-way gift: it is a dynamic give and take between two persons around something held important and in common to both of them. It is a confidence in one another that may either defy the circumstance or situation or define it. It is a choice and can be Light.

The readings for today are poised around themes of seeing, light and trusting. Samuel has the vision to realistically notice each of Jesse’s sons: he calls for anoints David. Seeing is shown to be so meaningful, so purposeful. The responsorial psalm is Psalm 23: the Lord is my shepherd. The tender compassion of the Shepherd and the faithful responses of the sheep coming alive to create that bond, the willingness to go on. And then, the Gospel filled with characters who really are characters in the best sense of the word. Some are ensconced in a reality with such raw and blatant inclusivity and exclusivity, clear ownership of the space. It is not so for the blind man or for Jesus who simply are who they are in the moment. The exchange is simple, really. Disability had been determined as a punishment from God, an explanation for what was so difficult to cope with. Jesus disavows that with saliva and dirt, concocting a muddy ointment and then directing the blind man to wash. In simplicity, the blind man realizes his gratitude to Jesus and learns who Jesus really is. He sees in every sense of the word. It is the Pharisees whose fixed understanding deprives them of that chance.

So how do we see? How do we recognize the Light of the World? How do we walk in the Light? Perhaps the task is more simple than we realize. Maybe we do not need to be judgmental, to hurt one another by discriminating or by failing to really listen for the grains of truth that are the fiber of human experience. Maybe we can take the time to really look at one another and not simply pass by the people in our lives. Maybe that one meaningful glance can be the light, make a connection, share an understanding, be the seed of trust to come. Let go of the prisons of the past, forgive yourself for the blindness and the mistakes. Trust that someone is looking out for you, and that is moving towards the Light.


Today, during Mass, I saw two men, entwined, returning from Communion. The younger was red-headed and bearded, his eyes mere slits. The older (by decades) was taller and had his right arm stretched across the other’s back, their hands grasped tightly at his shoulders. The taller one seemed serious, navigating the way with gentle fortitude. The bearded one was accepting the help and gliding through obstacles with a consistent smile. And so it was that the Gospel message took on new and treasured dimension: technically, the blind man was walking first and his helper simply leading from behind. It was a powerful and inspirational lesson to be able to watch them, to see traces of the Samaritan woman’s experience with Jesus.

Today’s Gospel unwinds Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman who suffered the double stigma of being a woman and being a Samaritan. He approaches her, asks for a favor, and she does not immediately comply. Instead, she questions him with an authority and courage that denies both stigmas. For his part, he responds gently, pragmatically, responding as much to the juncture where they stood as to her curiosities. It becomes a Holy Moment, the open door, that she walks through. And it is not about rules or guidelines but relationship, a transformative relationship that alters everything which seemed familiar. God is present to her, and she dares to embrace that with links between the past and present and then becomes the bridge to the future. Lent can be like that: meeting Christ in the eyes of others and listening carefully, one to the other.

In the turmoil and tumultuous shifts in culture as our whole society remoors, it is splendid to think that such moments are possible. It transcends the diatribes of debate over education, gun control, gender and transgender, homophobia and ageism. It sticks to the one-to-one, the personal connection. Anchors like that are freeing: knowing there IS an anchor can enable us to look beyond the present and consider wider circumstance, create new harbors for others. If we are so tied to the minutiae, entangled in the weeds, we can easily miss those moments that are the connection with something so much greater than self.

As human beings humbled by the glories of science and the gifts of technology, it is easy to imagine our own sense of power, control over life. Genetics and cloning have enabled us to strip away the sense of mystery and miracle in daily life and remain allured solely by the richness of all that has become possible for humans. But here we stand, hearing Jesus speak simply of the sacredness of connections and witness to the gentle acts of human beings caring for one another. Words have power as Jesus and the Samaritan woman demonstrate. But being without words like the men walking with each other also has power.

Power’s many incarnations, many purposes and uses, can be overwhelming and confusing. Having power can bring out the worst in us: knowing the weak spots of another can shape an argument; establishing control can become the sole purpose and justify cruelty; simply not saying anything can allow power to deprive people of freedom and life. This Gospel uses words to highlight power, and actions of its participants to highlight its uses. This Sunday marks a moment of using the power of words for good, for connections and purpose. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that we all have the chance to be entangled with one another for the good of self and others.

Changing Perceptions

Plump and tiny, that little wren paused for just an instant on the forsythia’s winter-worn branch. Then she slipped away, an ambassador awaiting Spring’s arrival and the end of Winter’s reign. Change is coming. It can surround us and emanate from us. The story of the Transfiguration from Matthew 17 opens that doorway to stronger, more authentic and accurate understandings of the world we live in, to self-awareness and awareness of others as well.

When Jesus invites the disciples to join him, it seems an ordinary moment. But all that changes quickly. “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.”
They see Moses and Elijah, and then the stunning moment, “then from the cloud came a voice that said,”This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.”
To see and hear things as they are, a greater Truth, is an extraordinary moment in human life. It passes; they move on. But the change is impossible to ignore.

This Gospel invites change and celebrates the courage to accept who we are and to stand together with those we love and care for. It invites consideration of the expansiveness of the human heart and spirit, and it defies the confines of human perception. It intimates how limited we can choose to be, to react, to respond at times, and it provides the reassurance that as human beings, we are more and we can become more. That process begins with perceptions and the realization that there just might be more to each of us than meets the eye, that there might be more to any given circumstance than what we can conceive. In general, the world might be a different place than we have determined it to be.

Change can be for the better: it can deepen our truths, expand our understandings, open new doors. At any age, we can see what is, let go of what was, and move towards what can be. There is a hint of glory in the story of the Transfiguration, of Jesus’ real status in the world; it is a glory that elevates man and shines a light on each of those before him. And so it shines on and in each of us. It is the invitation to become who we are meant to be, to be fearless in that and to trust deeply in God’s love. In other words, to become better people.

We will not be standing on Mt. Tabor anytime soon. But we can pay attention to what is happening around us. We can practice kindness. We can be open-minded and purposeful. We can choose to see the goodness in each other and forgive the flaws, our own and others, as part of a greater whole. We can trust intuition and give credit for synchronicity and bring joy and confidence to one another. We can dare to try. Maybe, like that tiny wren, maybe that is all we are being invited to do.