God hiding in plain sight


Homily for Monday of the III week of Lent

Click here for the podcast version of this homily.

Most of us have probably had the experience of looking desperately for our car keys, or our glasses, only to realize that we are holding them in our other hand. Sometimes we fail to see things right in front of us, or we overlook some important aspect of them that is clear to other people. They are so familiar to us that they almost disappear. Every day we can see the Hudson Valley landscapes, the birds and the squirrels and other wildlife, and yet not even notice anymore how varied, beautiful and wonderful they are.

This can happen in our spiritual life too. We end up looking for God mostly in extraordinary things, not perceiving His presence and action in the ordinary people and events around us. We can also be predisposed not to see God’s hand in some circumstances because of our own preconceived expectations of how, when and where God should work.

That is one of the themes of today’s readings. In the first reading, Naaman the leper is told by the prophet Elisha to wash in the river Jordan in order to be healed. At first he resists, because he had expected something more impressive and extraordinary. His national pride also gets in the way: he thinks the rivers of his homeland are better than the waters of Israel. However, his servants point out that this is a simple and obvious prescription to follow. When Naaman swallows his pride and obeys, he is healed.

The people of Nazareth have much the same attitude. They cannot accept it when Jesus, one of their fellow townspeople whom they saw grow up like anyone else, claims to be the Messiah. They were expecting someone of more elevated origin, with more worldly power and influence. Their national pride also gets in the way; Jesus refers to the cases of Naaman and of the widow of Sidon to imply that even pagan gentiles have more faith then the Jews of Nazareth. This also foreshadows the fact that He will extend His gift of salvation to all nations. The Jews were very proud of their status as the Chosen People of God, and considered themselves better than everyone else, so the Lord’s accusation and implication stings them bitterly. They try to kill Him, but it is not yet the time for Jesus to die, so He walks away unscathed.

May God help us during this Lent to open our eyes anew to discover His presence in all the places it has been “hiding in plain sight.” May we perceive Him in the people around us – both in their goodness and in their need for our love and support. May we see His Providence in the events of our daily lives. And may we recognize His wisdom, power and beauty in His creation, from the height of the hills and mountains to the delicate beauty of the first flowers of spring.

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About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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