Sunday, March 31, 2019

Smoke Can Blind Us (Lent 4.A)

My father and his sister both played the piano, and from time to time they would do a four-hand duet at family gatherings. As far as I remember, they always played the same thing—Jerome Kern’s popular song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

I thought about that tune last summer, when the smoke from upcountry wildfires made my eyes sting and even made it hard for some people to breathe.
But smoke can have far more serious consequences. It can cause blindness. During a tour of a reconstructed native village in Ontario, I remember our guide saying that many indigenous women in the seventeenth century were virtually blind by the time they were 40 from tending the poorly ventilated fires constantly burning inside their houses.

Today, we live in an age filled with enough smoke to block the sun.

And if the smoke doesn’t blind us, it sure clouds our vision and causes us to lose our way in the gloom.

The blacks and white of times past—the confident knowledge of good choices versus bad—are now a bunch of greys we can hardly make out. On even the most basic decisions, many (especially the young) have trouble knowing right from wrong.

Much of this confusion comes from the breakdown of the moral consensus that once united western society. But some of it comes from within the Church itself. In 1972, Pope Paul VI said that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”  How much truer are those words today; Satan’s smoke has obscured for many the beauty of the Gospel and the beauty of the Church, God’s temple.

What can drive out the smoke?  What can restore clear vision to the world? What can heal the blindness of hearts?

There is a one-word answer to these questions: Jesus. Jesus, the Son of Man. Jesus, the light of the world. Jesus who gives sight to the blind (see Luke 4:18 and Psalm 146:8).

If we are having trouble seeing our path, we need clarity about what Jesus offers and promises. If we have family members or friends who have lost their way in darkness of one kind or another, they need Christ’s vision of freedom and peace.

And if the world is to come out of its spiral of selfishness, fear and confusion, it needs the answers the Gospel gives. Clear and compassionate answers to life’s questions.

Where can we find that clarity? How can we share it with others?

I have another one-word answer: Alpha.

Take a look at this short video presentation—and then consider taking a closer look at the Alpha course we’re offering right here after Easter.

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