We are surrounded by the goodness of God and yet we are often blind to it.
Jimmy and Jace are color-blind. The brothers see as clearly as anyone else, but the colors red and green dissolve into murky shades of yellow. Even the colors they can see, such as blue, are dull and lifeless.
In a touching video, Jimmy's father holds a bunch of brightly colored balloons, points to the orange one, and asks his son to name the color. There is a long pause before Jimmy hesitantly says, “Green?” His father then points to a green balloon and gently tells Jimmy, “this is green.” “It looks orange to me,” replies the teenager.
Jimmy is then given a pair of glasses designed to correct red-green color blindness. He puts them on and looks up. His mother, holding the camera, can be heard off screen asking him what he sees. But Jimmy can't speak. He is so overwhelmed by the vividness of the colors that tears are rolling down his cheeks. He turns to his brother, Jace, hugs him, and then passes on the glasses. Jace, too, is overwhelmed and only manages to say, “it's so bright.”
There are more videos like this, of people seeing the vibrant colors of the world around them for the first time. Far and away the most typical responses are tears of joy.
We live in a world surrounded by the beauty of God's creation but we have become so accustomed to it that we are frequently blind to its intensity. It often takes an outside force, a pair of glasses or a person with a different perspective to help us see the world as it truly is.
The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was a quiet moment, limited to a few people. On the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the manifestation of God to the entire world, specifically to the Gentile nations who had received no prophecies and heard no heavenly hymns of praise.
But the Gentile astrologers did see a sign. Through an unusual star in the common constellations, God sent them a message they could not ignore. And so they came, nations and kings, to the light of Israel. They did not come to Israel itself. The people had become so used to God’s Word they had grown somewhat deaf to it, blind to His Light.
We are guilty of this as well. We are surrounded by the goodness of God and yet we are often blind to it. God constantly reaches out to us, longing for us to return to Him, but we have become deaf. All too often the Light of Christ no longer penetrates our hearts.
In the movie, The Godfather III, mafia boss Michael Corleone has just informed Cardinal Lamberto of the corruption within the Vatican Bank. Some of the Bank's chief executives, including an Archbishop, have been caught up in a massive case of fraud.
In response Cardinal Lamberto walks over to a fountain and picks up a stone from the water filled basin. “Look at this stone, “ he says, “It has been lying in the water for a very long time, but the water has not penetrated it.” The Cardinal then breaks the stone on the side of the fountain and holds the pieces for Michael to see. “Look, perfectly dry,” he continues. “The same thing has happened to men in Europe. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity, but Christ has not penetrated. Christ doesn’t breathe within them.”
Does Christ breathe within us? Do we remember that we have been tasked with spreading the light of the Gospel to the entire world? Have we forgotten that our gifts and talents, our abilities and interests, have been given to us to accomplish this task? Have we become deaf and blind?
When the Gentile nations came to honor the Light of Israel, they did not come to the people, for whom the light had ceased to penetrate. They came to the Light itself and then proclaimed that Light to the world.
It sometimes takes a stranger, an outsider drawn by the light, to help us remember who we are, and to once again see the fullness of the Light.
The Light brings together a new people, gathered from all nations, a people of God, a people chosen, a branch grafted on to the tree of Israel.
Let us take this time to be reminded of the beauty and goodness that surrounds us. The evil in the world sometimes threatens to consume our thoughts, and blind us to the world's goodness. It is necessary to once in a while take a step back, and see the Light that outshines the darkness. John the Evangelist reminds us of the power of the Light in some of the most beautiful lines in scripture.
“And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5
Let us then be wakeful and watchful, mindful of the manifestations of God that occur around us every day. In particular let us watch for our brothers and sisters who are returning home. They too are drawn by the light and can help us to see with fresh eyes. We reach out to those who are coming to us with questions, and those who are tired and long for nothing more than to be again counted among God’s children.
We are blessed with converts and prodigals. These are our brothers and sisters who often reveal to us new and fruitful paths, let us listen to them, and welcome them with joy.
The Epiphany of the Lord
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.co