Bishop Noonan’s Column: Blindness

You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

What is it that you have in your eye and is causing you difficulty in seeing clearly?  The Scripture readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent speak to darkness or blindness and the opportunity to be able to see clearly if we set our sights on God.  Part of removing our blind spots is to recognize or to see that we have them.  This may be difficult for us because we may have a false sense of righteousness about our faith in God.  Lent is a special season, a gift, to examine who we are as a people of faith. We are able to discern if any blindness exists through study and prayer.

When I was young and living at home, my mother would wake in the morning and make ready to do chores.  Even though the floor may have been cleaned the day before, my mother lamented that the early morning light showed the dust or some crumbs she may have missed in cleaning. Light also helps us to see what we might have missed within ourselves.  God’s light can reveal our imperfections and can help us to remove those imperfections, if we are willing to try.

One opportunity for this revelation is participating in the Sacrament of Penance.  Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance speak about their blindness and obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offenses committed against Him.  Our transgressions, our blindness, draw us away from God and we become wounded.  The Sacrament of Penance is one of healing. By our participation in the Sacrament, we are able to reconcile the distance between ourselves and God, to heal these wounds.  We begin again with a renewed spirit to bear witness to Him in every way possible.  Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” but at the conversion of the heart, an interior conversion. When we partake in the Sacrament of Penance, we offer a sincere heart to try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, to live as children of light.

Pope Francis said, “Let us put away, then, let us put away all blindness to the truth, all ignorance: and removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God …; since a light from heaven shone down upon us who were buried in darkness and imprisoned in the shadow of death, [a light] purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth.”

I chose part of the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians to begin this writing. This particular excerpt makes up the vision of the Diocese of Orlando, “Teaching and Living the Light of Christ Jesus: Toward Goodness, Righteousness and Truth”. Are we able to shed light through our blindness, to step away from all the justifications we have made against following God?  Some of these may include being angry at someone because of frustration with something not being fixed; having difficulty with a change caused by the sickness or death of a loved one; committing the sin of pride because we cannot see another’s perspective; hearing what we choose, not really what was spoken; prioritizing sports instead of participating in the celebration of Mass on Sunday or . . .  Our sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord’s call to holiness. Let us look to the communion of saints whose example of their lives and works of charity teach us how to live in the light.

It is not easy to live in the light because it does shine on our imperfections as well as highlight our goodness.  It is my hope that the vision of the Diocese of Orlando unites us to lead the people of God and inspires us to know and live our faith as each of us is called to do by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What is it that you have in your eye and is causing you difficulty in seeing clearly? May goodness and kindness follow us all the days of our life that we might dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

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