Friday, October 12, 2007

Seeing

Friday, October 12, 2007 -- Week of Proper 22

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html (go to St. Paul's Home Page www.stpaulsfay.org and click "Morning Reflection podcast")


Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Prayer Book, p. 986)
Psalms 140, 142 (morning) 141, 143:1-11(12) (evening)
2 Kings 23:36 - 24:17
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Matthew 9:27-34

A couple of characteristics of Matthew's gospel appear in our story today. When Matthew tells a story that he has received from Mark, he typically doubles the number of persons healed. In Matthew 8 the demoniac living in the tombs becomes two demoniacs. Mark's story of the healing of the blind Bartemaus becomes the healing of two blind men in Matthew 20. The first healing story today sounds a lot like that one. I don't know why Matthew doubles the number of those healed in his version of these stories. It may be simply to increase the magnitude and drama of the deeds.

A second characteristic of the stories in Matthew and also in the other Gospels is that they frequently represent illness as a metaphor for a spiritual impediment. In today's reading there is a blind man. Jesus heals him so that he can see. He goes away spreading the news about Jesus. A man whose muteness is credited to a demon is healed, and he speaks. The blind sees, the mute speaks, the demon is cast out. The people speak in wonder and amazement.

Then the punch line. "But the Pharisees said, 'By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.'" The healings are a metaphor for the spiritual blindness of those who cannot see or speak of the goodness of Jesus. They are blind to his goodness, and see and speak only of the work of demons.

The word "prejudice" means to "pre-judge." I wonder how often I have been blind to the goodness of another simply because I have already judged that person or the group that person represents. When have I spoken skeptically of their motives or their work because I bear a suspicion toward them?

I read of a follow-up editorial by a California columnist. He was commenting on the flood of negative, even hateful response he got when he tried to chronicle the contributions that illegal aliens were making to California's economy. The numbers were powerful and impressive. Without the input of labor and skill from undocumented workers, California's economy would simply crumble. It couldn't function. Blasphemy! cried the readers. That can't be true, you lawbreaker.

I wonder if another California report estimating that illegal workers contribute $38 billion a year to Social Security met similar protests. The Social Security Administration stashes earnings from fictitious and unknown SSN's into a fund that now generates nearly $7 billion in Social Security tax revenue and about $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes. These workers will never collect on the benefits of these taxes because they are undocumented workers. Our Social Security system is significantly benefited by their contributions. I didn't see whether that column got an equally hostile response.

Immigration is a complicated issue. Part of seeing reality and speaking truthfully is having eyes healed and tongues that can speak of the goodness as well as the challenges and troubles that are present. Some Pharisees were unable to see any good thing that Jesus did. It all came from the demons, they said. Some Americans seem unable to see any good coming from the influx of illegal aliens. All bad, they say.

All of us have our blind spots and our prejudices. Part of our healing is coming to awareness of those handicaps and being willing to let the kind of love that Jesus demonstrates heal and free us. When the blind men came to him, Jesus asked, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" When they said, yes, he touched them with these words: "According to your faith let it be done to you." Their faith was such that their eyes were opened. Can we have faith enough to let go of our own blindness and our prejudice so that we can see clearly?

Lowell
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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St
.
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
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2 Comments:

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Rita said...

Lowell - in reference to your tie-in concerning our gay members, I wanted to clarfy what I meant last Sunday when I asked if the subject of sex itself had been discussed in Community. I once had a friend whose wife was a Seventh Day Adventist and he wasn't. He was an unchurched hippie folk singer, by trade. I remember his outrage when she came home and informed him that her "church" forbade her to kiss him on the chest during sex (perhaps any time). In fact, they had very precise rules of what was allowed - not much. I can tell you this. Not only did they have little chance of "saving" his soul, they nearly wrecked his marriage.

The point is - a lot of people with wild immaginations think morality must be legislated. This is a very slippery slope, because hetero-sexuals would have to be included. Right? And I also know gay couples living together who say they don't have sex together. What about them? Seemingly gay people are sometimes asexual, but have roomates. I just think our spiritual legislators are going to have to wallow around in the actual topic, like it or not.
Rita Vail
PS - I lived in Eureka Springs for 15 years.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Regarding your comments on California illegal entrants, there was this really bad movie that had a great premise called "A Day Without a Mexican." See intro at http://www.adaywithoutamexican.com/dos.html
It was so bad, that I would not advise anyone rent it, but it could have been great. Imagine California waking up one day and all the "Mexicans" had "poof," disappeared. This could have been a great spoof disaster movie if it had not been executed so poorly.
As I have commented before, my Mayflower ancestor would have been classified as an illegal if the natives had written laws. The problem remains in our immigration laws and you don't see our Congressmen addressing the issue from the standpoint of quotas. They used to restrict the numbers of Irish as well.

 

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