Eyes to See Paula Hoeffer 04/09/14
|Left to right Jancie Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP and Deacon Paula Hoeffer, RCWP/USA|
Paula will be ordained a priest in May in Cincinnati. Both are members of Resurrection Community in Cincinnati, Ohio
(1 Samuel 16,1b,6-7,10-13a & Luke 7,36-46))
Need I only say the name “Susan Boyle” for you to recall the cheeky middle-aged plump woman who has on Britain Has Talent. And you may also recall the smirks and cynical looks from the judges as well as the audience when she first appeared on stage.
Then, from within, with clarity and beauty, came the song “I Dreamed a Dream.” Her singing stunned the judges and audience!
“Pay no attention to appearances” that was God's advice to Samuel in our first reading, as he was to choose a new leader for the Israelites from among Jesse's sons.
God is telling us to look beyond the gift wrap, to the gift within, to the heart, the place where God dwells in each of us.
In today's Gospel reading, we hear the Pharisees say,
“If this fellow were the Prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him, and what a low reputation she has.”
Well Jesus did know who this woman was. He saw the gift within, he saw her heart.
I saw something on YouTube called God's Glasses, that illustrated this way of seeing so well. As a man is leaving his house he is clearly irritated by the happenings in his life. First
a kid on a skateboard gets in his way,
then the traffic jams,
then someone “steals” his parking space,
then a long line in the coffee shop....
well you get the picture, nothing is going right. Then someone approaches him and hands him a pair of glasses. When he puts them on, it's as if he had prayed, “Open my eyes, God, help me to see.”
Because now through the glasses, as he views everyone he encountered that mourning, they had labels on them which spoke of their heart. Labels like:
grieving her best friend
or discontent with life
or fighting additions
works two jobs to feed her kids
just needs a hug
recently lost his job
or needs someone to listen and care
Remember, God said “Pay no attention to appearances.” Wouldn't it be astonishing if we all had those glasses?....those glasses of compassion. Not just for seeing into the heart of casual encounters as this fellow did, but what about when we are in conflict with,
or judgmental toward those with whom we live, toward our spouse, ... our friends, our family, our coworkers,. Or even as Jesus said “our enemies.” ….or the patriarchal church.
It's not easy, especially when dealing with difficult people or situations to see beyond appearances into their heart. It's easier to see them through our eyes.
We see the hurt they cause us.
We see the wrong they have done us.
We see their actions through the lenses of our own personal experience and feelings.
Through God's eyes we could see them as a hurting, frightened,lost or misinformed person.
Through God's eyes we see their woundedness, their confusion, their fear, their brokenness.
And if we seek wholeheartedly, we could even see their possibilities instead of their liabilities. Looking beyond appearances takes the focus off of us and keeps us from taking things personally....looking beyond appearances into their vulnerable heart, bypassing the wrapping paper to get to the gift.
Those glasses can be transforming not only when looking at people, but also at life situations. My diagnosis of cancer, a rare gastro-intestinal tumor, suspicious liver, blood clot , possibly inoperable, was not a pretty wrapping paper.
But beyond the appearance of this ugly gift wrap I eventually discovered a valuable gift inside.
The gift of appreciating the present moment
...the gift of a deeper trust and faith in God
...the gift of accepting and embracing my mortality
..the gift of a joy-filled gratitude love for life, for Ed, my family and friends, and my community. Yes all of you. I am so grateful for your prayers, your hugs, your encouragement, your love,....these are gifts to me.They have lifted me up.
Sometimes I think little people have a way saying the simple truth without ever realizing it. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, my six year old grandson came up to me and said, “Congratulations on your cancer, Grandma!” I didn't know what he meant by that then, or if he even knew, but now I know, the cancer was a gift!
Now here is the good news... we all own a pair of those glasses!
Jesus said, “I will send my Spirit to be with you always.”
How do we convert initial appearances to transforming gifts? Symptoms to significances? We go deep within our own hearts, in quiet meditation, and listen to the Spirit.
I invite each of us to take a brief moment now to reflect on a current situation or a person in our life that we would need to look beyond appearances and into the heart and listen to what the response might be.
(Allow a few minutes of quiet)
Take some time this week to take that to prayer. Open my eyes, God, help me to see!