Paul and the Eucharist (Part 1)
May 1, 2024
Holy Spirit novena at St Theresa’s Woodbrook
May 1, 2024

Restoring our sight

By Fr Stephan Alexander, General Manager, CCSJ and AMMR

There are times when at the end of the day we are so tired that our tiredness becomes our focus and we become closed to life’s invitation.

Wednesday, April 24 was one of those days for me. After an incredibly exhausting day, I was readying myself to leave the office when I received a reminder to deliver some packages to a migrant family in urgent need.

The drive to their location lasted 50 minutes. I was so focused on my tiredness, that despite the family’s attempt to chat with me, I simply dropped off the packages and left.

While driving away grace intervened and my tiredness briefly lifted. This moment allowed me to notice the breathtaking sunset before me and how uncharitable I had just been to these wonderful people. Unfortunately, it was too brief a moment. Tiredness once again overwhelmed me and the idea of returning to chat with them was quickly pushed out of my thoughts.

My prayer the next morning returned me to that moment when tiredness had lifted. I was now able to see how the disproportionate focus on my tiredness had blocked God’s desire to revive “my drooping spirit” (Ps 23:1–4).

Those who know me know how deeply nature impacts me. Nature awakens something deep within me. It leads me to happiness. They also know how profoundly I care for people and how important relationship is to me.

God knows me better than anyone and, in that moment, when God offered me an incredible sunset to awaken my spirit, I allowed my undue focus on tiredness to dim my vision and prevent me from being completely open to accepting His grace.

I hope that you don’t understand me to be lamenting my tiredness. To be tired is normal. In fact, it is necessary to ensure that we rest.

However, an overemphasised attention to our tiredness or any ‘reality’ resulting from our humanity can easily lead us away from what it means to be human. We can miss the bigger picture and overlook the beauty our humanity offers us when we are so focused on one aspect that it renders us closed and unable to receive God’s gifts.

A comparable analogy is perhaps the driver who is being driven. Most drivers know the experience of being in the passenger seat and noticing things that we miss while driving. Those things are always there. They are always visible to attentive passengers. Yet they are invisible to drivers because we need to be focused on the road in front of us and not the details of the scenery.

However, our focus can be so limited that we miss the blessing God grants us in the scenery of our lives. Many of these blessings have names and stories that are like ours. Their stories emphasise our connectedness to each other. They serve as reminders that we are all made in God’s image and likeness and created with equal dignity.

Yet, without the touch of Jesus, we might see trees instead of people, like the blind man of Bethsaida (Mk 8:22–26). God’s grace helps to broaden our focus so that our sight can be restored, and we can distinctly ‘see’ people instead of regarding others as statistics.

With restored sight several babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Port of Spain General Hospital may not have died between April 4 to 9, 2024. Why were multiple deaths allowed when action could immediately have been taken once a problem became evident?

Restored sight might allow us to abandon xenophobic attitudes and approaches towards Venezuelan migrants who desperately need our help.

Restored sight might allow us to be less dismissive of persons living in ‘hot spots’ so we can empathise with families that live in fear and regularly lose loved ones to violence.

Restored sight would help us to become aware of misguided modern interpretations of human dignity that are nuanced, ambiguous and inconsistent with the understanding of Catholic Social Teaching. These interpretations of human dignity seek to close us off from each other because they attempt to convince us that dignity can be given and taken away by us.

When we believe this falsehood, we wrongly begin to choose whose dignity should be acknowledged and respected.

Mark 8:22–26 reveals that Jesus touched the blind man twice. The second touch is symbolic of the movement from blurred vision to pristine vision, which allows us to see each other in our unspoiled original condition through the lens of ontological dignity.

For more information on ontological dignity and other clarifications see paragraphs 7 to 9 of the Declaration Dignitas Infinita on Human Dignity.

May we all be open to the Lord’s second touch. May His touch revive our drooping spirits, and may it allow us to admire the glorious scenery that His grace reveals.

May our attention to each other and our approach to relating with each other reflect the gentleness of Jesus’ hands on our eyes.


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Photo by Aditya Wardhana on Unsplash