Blog # 273 Broadening our horizon
It is interesting to me what title comes to mind for a new blog when I sit down here at the computer to compose and type it out. Three possible titles were competing with one another this morning. A second to the one I chose was Healing -Two and a third was God's Presence. Each could stand on its own, perhaps as well as another, to capture your attention. But now you have all three and I hope that will help more than any one of them alone to focus and clarify what I hope to share with you in my blog today.
You may have had this experience in your Bible reading, of a particular passage having a single literal meaning relating a historical fact in the life of Jesus or one of the Prophets, and then some time later, on another occasion, reading the same passage and noticing something different in it that did not occur to you in previous readings.
An example of this might be the story of the miraculous healing of the ten lepers. You might find yourself on one occasion simply emphasizing the notion of being thankful for not being a leper yourself and consequently in need of this particular application of the power wisdom compassion and goodness of Jesus, though appreciative of it in the lives of the ten lepers and aware that you could trust and experience this same love of Jesus in needs that you do or will have, physical or otherwise.
On another occasion we might find an application of the lepers' story in the petition in the Lord's Prayer in which we ask the Lord to "lead us not into temptation". Not knowing for sure if I were placed in that story or in one parallel to it at some time in my life , I might wisely ask the Lord that I not be placed in such a situation until I was a bit more secure, so that I would be identified with the one who came back and fell to his knees in thanks to Jesus rather than among the nine who were indeed happy in their new health but became so involved in using and enjoying their gift they did not find the time or awareness it would take to thank Jesus for His goodness and love.
In my preparation for preaching the homily at Mass on Sunday this week (23rd Ordinary Time ) I experienced another opportunity to 'broaden my horizon,' receive a new insight into the healing of a deaf person, and in my awareness of the all-pervasive Presence of God.
The Gospel passage was Mark 7: 31 - 37. It is the story of Jesus healing a deaf man. I felt very much a part of the Gospel story. Back in 1960 I was becoming aware of some difficulty with hearing. I had a fenestration operation on my right side. I could not sense any improvement in my hearing after the surgery. My left side did not show the symptoms that would permit the doctor to hope an operation on that side would improve the quality of my hearing . I was at that time what you would call 'hard of hearing' rather than deaf. Through the years, however, my hearing gradually deteriorated until about ten years ago I could be labeled as profoundly deaf in both ears. Currently for all practical purposes my hearing is gone. I am a deaf man.
I am content being deaf because I see my condition as the will of God. I am not happy because I cannot hear but because that is the will of God for me, and living out the will of God should be enough to make anyone happy and content. I would rather be deaf than to hear myself or anyone else for that matter tell a lie.
You can imagine how happy I was and proud of Jesus in the Gospel yesterday when he gave the deaf man hearing! Then my horizon was broadened. I began to realize and be aware that yesterday morning and every morning for years I was healed! It was the 'work' of my hearing aid. My horizon was broadened again . God it was who healed me using the hearing aid as the instrument of His love, just as I can plant a garden but the garden belongs to God.
I plant a garden. Neighbors come by and tell me they came to see my garden. At church or at a meeting people ask me " How is your garden doing? But the garden belongs to God. Each seed planted is designed by God and lives out
its design in perfect 'obedience' to God's design. A lettuce seed will never produce a string bean, nor will a cauliflower
seed produce an onion. Distinctive colors shapes and flavors of all that grows in a garden belong to God. And beyond that, the soil, sunshine, rain and fertilizer all belong to God. What a wonderful gift an expanded horizon proves to be when you walk and work in a garden!
But like the garden itself the gift of an expanded horizon must be received and cultivated. All ten lepers were healed. Only one of them was aware of what really happened to them all. Enjoy your string beans! But keep yourself aware they all belong to God and they are another way God has of saying : "I love you!".