The Bible and Seeing the World as It Is
Reflecting on the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Three Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 120
Old Testament: Jeremiah 22:11-17
Gospel: Luke 11:37-52
Holy God, you gather the whole universe into your radiant presence and continually reveal your Son as our Savior. Bring healing to all wounds, make whole all that is broken, speak truth to all illusion, and shed light in every darkness, that all creation will see your glory and know your Christ. Amen.
Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, “I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms,” and who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion (Jeremiah 22:13-14)
But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42)
Several years ago there was an orange juice commercial that started out in black-and white. It is a scene at the morning breakfast table that looks like an old episode of Father Knows Best (yes, I just dated myself), where everyone is getting ready for the day and all is well. Everyone is eating a wonderful breakfast; mom is cooking all dressed in her finest frockery. Dad is at the breakfast table conversing with his children. Everyone is smiling in this all too perfect world.
Than all of a sudden the scene switches to color and we encounter a much more realistic picture of the modern, twenty-first century family starting the day. The mother, looking as if she has just gotten out of bed, is yelling that it’s time for breakfast. One of the kids is pouring milk in his cereal and all over the table. The other children are zipping out the door so as not to be late, while the father with his nose stuck in the morning newspaper looks up long enough to ask his wife if the kids are up yet.
The truth of the matter is that when it comes to our life and what we want out of life, and how we view our obligations toward others, we all too often construct for ourselves, the ideal, make-believe world that insulates us from the misery and pain we see around us. We walk around in life with our eyes focused on the reality we have constructed rather then the world that in actuality impinges upon us from all directions.
The Bible is the window on the real world. If we are willing to read the Bible with our eyes wide open that make-believe world gets trashed right before our eyes. The Bible does not invite us to enter a world of make-believe where all is well, where beggars can be ignored, and injustice swept to the periphery of our vision. Rather the Bible invites us into the real world where we have a responsibility to reach out to those whom Jesus sees but the rest of the world overlooks. We can indeed rest assured that one day the world will become perfect and there will be no more beggars at the gate; and there will be no more blindness. Everything that threatens God’s perfect design for his creation will pass away. But when that world comes, it will be God’s doing, and it will not be a figment of our own imaginations.
If we refuse to open our eyes to reality that Jesus says is right in front of us, there are things that we see and other things that we ignore. We see certain people and ignore others. We see certain aspects of God’s work while ignoring other aspects of God’s doings in this world that are less agreeable and congenial to us. But Jesus helps us to see, forcing us to look upon those things and those people whom we, in our sin, fail to see.
The risen Christ has the power, if we are willing, to open our eyes, that we might see the world and those around us with his vision, the vision of Jesus Christ.
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