Most of us can see a number in the image above. Some may need some help to focus on the greenish circles. Then they may see the number 21. Others may never see the greenish circles since they will blend with the other circles. (For the record, unless you are afflicted with various degrees of color blindness, you should be able to see the number 74.)
The exercise reminded me that, for a variety of reasons, we sometimes can not see what is right before our eyes.
“Can’t you see I am doing something new?”
A young student at St. John’s University over 50 years ago taught me a lesson. It was a lesson about what it means to proclaim the word of God… and how powerful it is when God’s word is truly “proclaimed” rather than simply read.
I still remember that time as if it were today. Actually, it was over 50 years ago at an Easter Vigil in the late 1960’s. It was a time of great social turmoil not unlike today. Liz, an undergraduate student, reached into my heart. Her reading forcefully proclaimed the passage from Isaiah. “Can’t you see I am doing something new?”
I sat up! I had “heard” the passage many times before. This time was different.
She looked out from the pulpit, seemingly into each of our eyes. It was not Liz we heard. It was Isaiah himself. In her passion I could hear the frustration of the prophet crying out “thus says the Lord…!”
Israel was in cultural and religious crisis in the midst of their Babylonian captivity. The prophet said, “Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over times gone by; I am doing something new; it’s springing up— can’t you see it? I am making a road in the desert, rivers in the wasteland. Is 43:18-19
The week that changed the world
The question, “can’t you see”, has never been far from my consciousness during Lent this year.
Holy Week is literally a week that changed the world! Not everyone realized it then. Not everyone today realizes it.
Each Holy Week God is once again saying to us “Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over times gone by; I am doing something new; it’s springing up— can’t you see it? (Is 43:18-19)
What happened in that first Holy Week was a systemic change in the way we think about God and ourselves.
This Holy Week I would like to explore both why we may not be able to see, and the new thing we can see if we know how to look.
- How did their reading into the scripture lead crowds welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem to miss the new thing Jesus was about to do?
- How did their comfort at the Passover meal blind the disciples to the implications of the new thing Jesus was doing as he washed their feet?
- How did their grief and fear keep them from realizing that what was happening on the cross was the new thing revealing how limitless God’s love was for them?
- How did their Saturday experience of a world without Jesus raise many questions?
- Why were they so slow to recognize Jesus in their midst until he called their name or broke bread with them?
Opening our eyes in Holy Week
- How did Holy Week change the way we think about God… and ourselves?
- How does this change how we love God and our neighbor?