Sunday, February 15, 2015

Through a rose-tinted darkly

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Quinquagesima Sunday 2015

There was a bit of a fashion in the late 1960s and early 1970s of wearing rose-tinted spectacles. This was the time of “flower power”, “tie dye” and lots and lots of hair. The whole effect of wearing rose-tinted glasses was that it gave everything a warm glow and made everyone feel positive and relaxed. Of course the 1980s happened and everyone started to get more materialistic, and the rose-tinted spectacles had to make way for the shoulder pads and hard-noses of big business which had no time for being so laid back.

The colour of the glasses really does have an effect on how we see things. We wear sunglasses to keep out the glare of the sun. This is a bit awkward if we leave the bright sunny garden and go back into the house! Everything goes dark very quickly! The glasses that we wear affect our vision drastically. We wear them for a better view, but even with a better set of glasses, there are things that become less clear to us.


St Paul speaks of love, and reminds us that we see everything through a glass darkly. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done, everything we see is a shadow of what is really true. There are no binoculars that allow us to see the bigger picture. We can only see that when we see God face to face. We can only understand what is real when we see it with the eyes of one who is perfect.

One of the more common miracles of Our Lord is to heal the blind man. He does that on numerous occasions, even to people born blind. He opens their eyes so they can see, but this is only a symbol of what He is trying to do. Our Lord is trying to show us that there is more to the world that we can see with our defective eyes.

We cannot see into the hearts of other people to understand why they act the way that they do. Are they rude because they are really selfish, or are they rude because they are stressed at work and can’t see beyond the worry of what to do next? Is that boy a bully because he just likes to make other boys miserable, or is it because he feels so powerless and insecure that bullying other children makes him feel better? We do not understand the complexity of living, and so how do we cope with this?

The answer, says Our Lord, is love. We have to learn to love one another by seeing that they are even as we are. We all know that human beings are frail and sinful beings which are capable of the most horrific acts but also of the most beautiful acts of kindness. The challenge that Love gives us is to look beyond the confines of our limited vision and appreciate that there is something there even if we cannot see it. In trying to be patient, kind, generous, humble, modest, selfless and positive, we can develop ways to live with everyone whose lives we cannot see now in truth.

We do not yet have the option of seeing without the eyes we already have. When we have the eyes of God, what will we really see? What will we really see about ourselves?

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