Discovering the truth

Mar. 26, 2017

1 Sam 16.1-13; Eph. 5.8-14; Jn 9.1-41

"Seeing the light," means finally to see the truth about something. It's when basic facts and insights come of those "Eureka!" moments of truth! That describes an experience that my wife and I had earlier this year. We made a journey to Asia, and we saw something we'd only seen on TV. That is, people in urban areas wearing one of these surgical masks...I always assumed that it was a protection against air pollution, especially in China. Or that it was a protection against the colds and flu of other people...but we learned that when most people wear them, it's because THEY have a cold and it's to protect other people! That really was an eye opener. And it highlights what the writer Henry Miller wrote, "One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things."

We're like the prophet Samuel in the OT reading today...he had a commission from the Lord to anoint a new king over Israel from among the sons of Jesse. As he looked at each handsome face and broad shouldered stature...he was ready to lurch forward and do his prophetic duty and anoint each one, but the Lord told him each time, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, the Lord looks on the heart." That's the "enlightened view" and it is recommended by St Paul who wrote to the Ephesians that we should, "Live as children of light," in seeing and understanding. As the philosopher Susanne Langer wrote, "Most new discoveries are suddenly seen things that have been there all along." And as our Prayer Book says, "in your light we see light."

But what about when we don't--what about those times when we nurse our own misconceptions about others and ourselves? What about when we stew in our own self-righteousness juices or in the hurt feelings toward others? Sometimes it feels so right, even when we know it's actually so wrong! We build up our bravado into a tall castle of resentment from which we can look down on others with damningly critical views while we are bathe ourselves in a multitude of misconstrued feelings of justification and rectitude. All the while we need to be hearing the words of our Lord saying, "Do not look on the outward appearance, but on the heart." Otherwise, the truth escapes our grasp.

It's only when we take these words of the Lord to heart that we can come down from our tower of self-righteousness and actually connect with others and with our God. Country music typically tells it like it is...and as in Hank Williams' song "I saw the light". It says, "Just like a blind man I wandered alone; worries and fears I claimed for my own. Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight, praise the Lord, I saw the light."

This is important because if we live in the dark...dark things happen. Let me give you an example from baseball, since baseball season is beginning soon. Two of baseball's greats...Mickey Mantle and the pugnacious, fiery, hotheaded Billy Martin were in Texas on a hunting trip at the property of a friend of Mickey Mantle's. Billy Martin waited in the car while Mantle went in to check-in with the property owner. The owner said he was happy to have them hunt, but he asked a favor of Mantle. He said he had an old mule in his barn that was suffering from cancer and was near death, so he asked if Mantle would put the animal out of its misery with his hunting rifle. Mantle agreed, but on the way to the car to get his rifle, Mantle devised a scheme to trick Billy Martin. So, he pretended to be crazy, angry toward the landowner. And Mantle told Martin, "Oh, yeah, he said we could hunt, but he insulted YOU, my friend, Billy Martin by saying, 'How can you hang around with a loser like Billy Martin?'" And, Mantle said, "I'm so mad I'm going out to his barn and I'm gonna shoot that guy's mule!" And a moment later when Mantle's shot rang out, he quickly heard another shot. So, Mantle ran out of the barn to see Billy Martin with his rifle in hand. Mantle said, "What are you doin', Billy?" Billy's face was bright red with anger and he said, "Oh, I started thinking about what that guy said, and since you were gonna shoot the mule, I though, 'Well, I'm teach that guy a lesson too, and I'll shoot one of his cows for good measure!" Being in the dark leads to dark things happening. As the Book of Proverbs (22.24-25) says, "Do not make friends with a hot tempered man or you may learn his ways". That rings true. But truth seems hard to find these days.

The cover the current issue of Time magazine, asks a very simple question. It says, "Is Truth Dead?" Can we find it? Do we know what truth is? If we do not pursue truth, what's the alternative? Living in the dark? These questions remind us of the lesson in the gospel today...the Pharisees were willing to keep stamping their version of the truth over everything, no matter what...even to blatantly oppose God in Christ to maintain their version of the "truth". But isn't truth discovered rather than manufactured? Shouldn't we fearlessly pursue and follow the path to truth? What do we have without it? This is the point where we need to pray for God's enlightenment. Because without God's help, real insight, real truthful "Eureka" moments will always escape us. That's the point of this story of the man born blind...he discovered himself when he discovered the Christ. That's our story too! It's seeing the light...and finding who we are in Christ. Amen.

The Reverend WA Ray
St Thomas Church
Diamondhead, MS 03/26/17