Seeing In The Dark ~ 4th Sunday of Lent (a)

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

The Heart (16:7)
In Hebrew, the heart (leb) represents the inner man, the real self.  Have you ever had a friend who has decided to date someone that you do not view as particularly pretty or handsome?  Maybe they even had a physical deformity or weakness?  And yet, your friend came to fall in love with this person.  How is this possible you wondered.  Reflect on the possibility that your friend is seeing their inner beauty rather than their outward appearances.  How important it is for us to learn this lesson God taught Samuel. How do we recognize the heart (leb) of other people we meet?

With the anointing, as in Saul’s case spiritual power (13).  Again God chooses his man and prepares him long before he becomes a national figure.  Are we open to God preparing us for His use?

Psalm 23
We love this psalm.  We know the song by heart.  We reflect on this psalm with a variety of meanings depending on whether it is used to say farewell to a loved one, to accompany us and give us strength during times of trials, or more.  Today it takes on a new meaning when it combines with our other readings.  God is both shepherd and host.  He is guiding us and providing for us.    How have I seen God acting as shepherd in my life and guiding my ways?   How do I recognize when God has provided for me and been my host?

Ephesians 5:8-14
In this letter to the Ephesians, light and darkness are contrasted to describe who has been redeemed by Jesus.  The light of Christ comes into our world to chase away the darkness.  Paul tells his readers that through Jesus they have become children of the light.  People who live in the light seek goodness, justice, and truth. How do I reflect that I am a child of the light today?  How do I seek goodness, justice and truth?

John 9:1-41

In the story of the man born blind, faith is equated with seeing.  Jesus opens the eyes of the young man, but the deeper miracle is the opening of the eyes of faith.   Clearly the story is not simply a miracle story about healing a blind man.  It is about spiritual sight.  Seeing is a metaphor for coming to faith.  What experiences have you encourters that have helped you to come to a deeper faith.

In the Gospel story no one stands by the man who was born blind.  they question him, oppose him, ridicule him and even his parents will not stand by him for fear of being expelled from the synagog. As part of the Chruch’s Lenten experience, today’s Gospel is also an invitation to examin our own spiritual blindness.  What “blindnesses do you wish that Jesus would heal for you?   How are we looking for an increase in spiritual sight?

In jesish thought, disease was considered the result of sin. today’s Gospel contains a debate about “whose sin was it” that caused the man to be born blind. It is the guestion for job in the OT. Why do bad things happen to good peole:

In daily life we may ask that question in other ways.  Why am I single? Why am I in a painful relationship? Why do we not have enough money? What did I do to desrve this?  the assumption in each case is that god caused this to happen.

In considering the place of god in human suffering and disabilities, another question relates involvement in the pain.  It is important to help people realize that God does not abandon them in their suffering.  Jesus promised to be with us always.

The man born blind is given the gift of faith.  He gradually comes to realize who Jesus is. he begins by referring to him as “that man they call Jesus”. Then he says “he is a prophet”  Later he affirms that this man is from God. finally, when asked by Jesus if he believes in the Son of Man, he replies “I do believe, Lord.”   We too can gradually grow in our spirituality, in our coming to believe.  Faith does not always come all at once.  This is the second week in a row where we hear about Jesus encountering someone and that person growing in their faith.  How is your faith/spirituality continuing to grow? What are some of the things that I can do to grow more in my faith?  What am i actively doing during this time of lent to grow closer to Jesus?  To see with the eyes of faith?   Can I feel/see my faith and spirituality continuing to grow?  What blindfolds do I need to have removed to improve my relationship with Jesus?  Which ones can I take off right now?  Which ones will take more time to remove?    Pray for these intentions now.

I invite you to join us Weds evening, March 30 (7-8:30pm) at the Franciscan Center of Tampa.  We will gather in a darkened room and close our eyes  (youth groups might choose to use blindfolds).  Listen as the Gospel is proclaimed….  we will pause right after the blind man regains his sight.  Turn on the lights, open eyes and/or remove blindfolds.  Finish proclaiming the Gospel, followed by discussion questions and prayer.


Am I wasting my time on the wrong things ?

Yesterday we took the time to understand the background and culture of the reading of Luke 12:13.  “Someone in the crowd said to him, (Jesus), ‘Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.'”  This person is asking Jesus to be the mediator we chatted about.  But how did Jesus respond?

First, let’s take a closer look back in time:
The peasants of this Mediterranean society believed that all that exists ~ already exists ~ and has been distributed accordingly.  If you grew in your wealth, your health, your honor, etc.  then you have taken this at someone else’s loss.  Essentially you were a thief.  If you actively thought about it and took the steps necessary to obtain more for yourself, then you were considered GREEDY.  Stop and think:  How does this contrast with how our society accepts us growing in possessions, power, wealth, etc.

Jesus probably did not want to fall into this trap nor does he desire you or anyone else to fall into this trap.   Jesus humbly turns down this offer to be mediator. Jesus teaches him how he is wasting his energy on the wrong things, there is something more important. Jesus instead teaches him and us with the Parable of the Rich Fool to “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Tomorrow we will reflect more on the dangers of being “Possessed by Possessions”.

Peace & Goodness,
Susie
room4teens

U thot your fight with your brother was bad – check this….

In ancient Mediterranean families -the fighting btwn bros- could result in major family feuds (and not like the old TV show) for decades to come. These were blood battles worse than the Hatfields and McCoys. Think of Jacob and Esau (Gen 27) and even Joseph with his eleven brothers (Gen 27). Often these major fights were all over the family’s $$$$$$. Sharing it, spending it, inheriting it. What’s worse – division of inheritance wasn’t even consistent. Say a dad dies, in Roman law a division of inheritance was required only if both parties wanted it. Jewish laws allowed the division on the petition of a single son (see Luke 15:12). Dividing up the family’s $$ easily gave rise to these major battles.

This ancient society found a way to prevent such blood feuds by creating the role of the “mediator”. This was a highly honorable role in this culture. The mediator was a kins-person at least 5 links removed from the disputing parties. (Think we could even find such a person in our own families today?). And get this; the mediator was a person who the battling siblings were willing to listen to and even be ok with his decision as the final decision. This was usually because of the mediator’s personality, status, respect, influence or other characteristics, Guess who was the BEST MEDIATOR of all times. This Sunday (18th in ordinary time) we will be reading Luke 12:13-21. We hear of Jesus in just such a role. Imagine having Jesus as mediator when you are trying to settle major disagreements in your world. Where do you think he would stand? Till tomorrow….. Ciao

room4teens starts Blogging

Hello ~
Room4Teens responds to all the request to bring the email listserve to the international world of Blogging.
Peace and love to all of you who have wanted to share our path and journey and have prayed for, supported and encouraged this leap to the Blog.

Peace,
Susie