Today, friends, we have begun our reading of the Gospel of Luke, which will accompany us through this year’s Sundays of Ordinary Time.
Luke addresses his gospel to his patron, a certain “most excellent Theophilus.” The name “Theophilus” simply means ‘he who loves God’ or something like that. Therefore, friends, as far as we are people who love God, Luke’s gospel is addressed and dedicated to us personally.
And over the course of this year Luke will proclaim to us why it is God is lovable in the first place, why, as we pray in the Act of Contrition, God is “all good and deserving of all [our] love.” As Luke says, he will tell us of the “events that have been fulfilled among us,” the salvation and re-creation of the world that has been accomplished in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Luke’s account Jesus begins his ministry in the synagogue in his hometown of
Now if you will indulge me for a moment, every time I hear about blindness in the Scriptures, I think of my work before I entered the Order. Before I joined the friars I worked in a group home with several folks with fairly intense mental and physical disabilities. One of the men assigned to me had been blind and deaf since birth, and, by then in middle age, he had a suffered much in various institutions.
But he was a very bright guy! If everything was where he expected it to be, he had learned to use the microwave to heat up his own snacks. He could retrieve his own basket of toiletries and start his bath all by himself. One time when I was showing how he did these things to a new staff member, she said with surprise and admiration, “Wow, he sees just what he’s supposed to do.”
And I thought: what an interesting thing to say, to say that “he sees what he’s supposed to do,” because, of course, he couldn’t see anything!
But it’s true—we use the idea of seeing and sight for all kinds of things. To see is to understand, like when we say “I see what you mean.” Or seeing means appreciation and gratefulness and love, like when we say, “It’s so good to see you.”
And friends, call to mind that feeling, when someone is before you, and you say “It’s so good to see you.” Think on that feeling, because, let me tell you, that’s how God looks at us all the time. God looks upon us and says, I love you, and it’s so good to see you.
And when we’re able to notice and appreciate this love of God, when we’re able to say to God, “I see what you mean,” well, there’s a name for that event in religion: we call it divine revelation.
Revelation is when God looks at us with love and we notice it.
Now the Scriptures often talk about this interaction of love, this divine revelation, with the language of opening a scroll. We hear two great examples of this in the Scriptures today:
In the 6th century before Christ, when the people of God had just returned from their captivity in
In the beginning of the public ministry, Jesus too opens a scroll—this time of the prophet Isaiah—and proclaims recovery of sight to the blind. He proclaims that through himself, this tired world which is so ignorant of God will come to notice and appreciate the love of God poured out on the earth. For Jesus Christ our Savior is God’s Word made a human being. And God’s eternal word is nothing more than the word “I love you,” and the word “It’s so good to see you.” And this is the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.
Finally, at the end of the Scriptures, in the book of Revelation, the Lamb of God, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, will open the scroll of the seven seals and bring all of creation to its final fulfillment in the perfect love and victory of God.
And so let us take the advice of Ezra the scribe, and rejoice in the Lord today. For Jesus the Lord takes the scroll and opens it for us. And the scroll he opens is God’s own inner life. The man Jesus Christ is the perfect expression of the secret, inner life of Almighty God. And the inner life of God is nothing but love. In the Word made flesh this perfect love becomes the loving gaze of God upon his creation, the perfect sight of God that knows and sees us and says to our hearts, “It’s so good to see you.”
God is perfect love, God is perfect joy. Where the presence of God is, where the Spirit of God rests in our lives, there we find this love and joy. Let’s accept this joy today, and rejoice in it. For, as Ezra says, “rejoicing is the Lord must be your strength.”