March 20 Luke 11:33-36
When I was fourteen, my dad made a fateful trip to the eye doctor. He exited the examination room, and pupils still dilated, informed me that he had kindly volunteered me as the new filing clerk for the chief optician – an intimidating, loud woman from East Germany who I later came to love. It would pay $5.15 an hour, I would have to give up three afternoons a week, and there was to be no complaining. From then on, my life consisted of coaxing stickers off plastic lenses with rubbing alcohol, sorting and filing thousands of color-coded patient records, and boxing up broken frames for return to the manufacturer. I like to think that my first job was an exercise in the value of hard work and responsibility. Of course, in reality, my parents likely saw the direction that my poor eyes were headed – straight toward bad vision for life – and decided to get in good with the folks in the optical shop, hoping for discounted contact lenses in the future. I did enjoy my work at the ophthalmologist’s office, and aside from free glasses and unlimited access to the grossest pictures I could find for my anatomy projects, I also learned a bit from working with eyes.
Today’s reading from Luke asks us to examine the concept of light in action – in other words, we are called to examine how we see God’s light, and to question the way in which we use it. A simple application of this concept to our theme of “Living Defiantly” would remind us that, quite often, following the call of Jesus in our lives means serving as an example to others who may not understand God’s love, and sharing our faith with those around us. But it seems that this is too comfortable and simplistic an interpretation – too dangerous, even – and allows us to assume that we, having experienced God’s love, are now the simple carriers of a message to all who do not yet “walk in the light.”
Unfortunately, evangelism is hardly so simple. Our call to witness requires active living in community beyond our comfort zones; God’s love is boundless, and our encounter with it is never passive. If we are not simply recipients of light, but vessels for it, then perhaps we are not only called to show others the light, but also to ensure that our actions reflect the unconditional love that God has shown to us. When we practice love even when it is uncomfortable, when we accept others even though those around us have difficulty doing so, our eyes are focused in the right direction. Opening our eyes and hearts to different people – and people with whom we have differences – is not easy. It requires a rigorous internal and external self-examination, yet relies on the mechanics of simple love. It flies in the face of all that seems easy and normal. But opening our eyes to the challenge of loving unconditionally is critical to effective witness in our world, and if we have done so successfully, maybe – just maybe – those who have been watching all along will notice.
Lord, help me to see those around me in a new light, invigorated and inspired by the love you have shown to me.