There’s a Texas Country song that goes like this:
Storms running through the Midwest
Like a bandit out on the loose.
All the clouds are black as night fall.
But all I see is you.
I make my way to the doctor one day
When my eyes don’t work like they should
I read those letters from the large down to the small
But all I see is you.
All I want to see…is you.
Most of us know what it’s like to read letters on an eye chart
from the large down to the small…
Sounds like Lent to me.
Instead of giving up chocolate or Facebook,
I suggest we start out Lent this year
in an optometrist office.
Try to make sense out of things that are blurry and hard to read.
Not the lines at the bottom of an eye chart, rather,
lines like the headlines in the news
or lines of people getting Covid vaccinations
or lines of hungry people at the food bank
or lines of worry on your best friend’s face.
(How do you make sense of blurry lines that make you squint?)
By the way, did you happen to notice all the squinting going on
in today’s readings?
For Noah, the whole world is flooded.
Makes you wonder how long he stood on the deck of the ark,
squinting at the horizon, that distant, hazy line between heaven and earth?
In today’s Gospel, we encounter Jesus fasting in the desert.
How many hours during those forty days,
did he stare at heat waves floating on the horizon,
coaxing him—like the fingers of the Tempter—
to give it all up and throw himself on the rocks?
You’ve heard of Holy Days of Obligation?
Well, Lent is a Holy Season of Observation.
Throughout Lent, we strain to somehow see
God somewherepresent and, in some way, at work
in the “hard-to-read” places of life.
Days when the rain pour down
and, like Noah, we wonder how long we’ll stay afloat;
Days when life is as dry as a desert
and, like Jesus himself, our spirits cave-in like the walls of an empty stomach.
Long days, sleepless nights…
when spiritual vision is blurred by pain
distorted with confusion
and obscured by sin and despair.
Yes, Lent is an eye chart.
Unfortunately, the more you squint the harder it is to read.
But, fortunately, the Lord has equipped us with a well-crafted lens
to help us adjust our focus and read harsh realities clearly…and correctly.
The lens has been around a long time.
It’s called the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Specifically, that part of the Mass
in which you and I place on this altar
all the things that confuse us, trouble us and weigh u down:
such as that feeling you get when you walk into a doctor’s office
to hear the results of a test,
or that desperation you experience when the boss calls us into the office
and tells you to hit the road,
or the anger that churns the gut when we hear about a child being abused
Each week, we bring to this altar, not only the work of this past week,
but also bring our suffering, our doubt and our pain.
We place it all in the hands of Christ…
the Savior who wept at the grave of his friend, Lazarus;
the Savior who looked deeply into the eyes of a mother
who child was dying
the Savior who took into his arms a leper
with open sores on his rotten skin.
the Savior who clothed the naked body of a tormented man
living among the tombs…
the Savior who offered his back to the whip
and opened his hands to the nails.
When we do this, when we unite our suffering to the suffering of Christ.
it is then, only then, that our sight grows clear, and our focus turns sharp:
It is then that we receive a new set of lens.
It is here, at Mass, that we actually begin to see that God is close.
So close that we can hear Him crying.
Crying with us, at the side of the hospital bed.
Crying with us at the side of the open grave.
Begging us not to stop looking, not to stop gazing at the horizon…
pass the place where three crosses stand on a hill…
pass the place where a man cries out in pain and bows his head…
and on to the place where stands an empty cross,
where all is made new and all is made right…
and every tear is wiped away.
(c) Jim Schmitmeyer