The Scripture readings this weekend remind us that we need the gifts of sight, of hearing and of speech to see as Christ sees, to hear as Christ hears, to speak as he speaks.
St James calls us to look beneath appearances in people we meet to a deeper image, the image of God inside every human being, to look past the clothes and skin colour, to the person within. Afterall, as Christians we believe that every individual has a value in God’s sight.
Can we see in them what Jesus sees?
That’s a question for each one of us. We need the gift of sight or insight, to look beneath the surface, to see in each individual a fellow creature with fears and hopes, a human being in need of redemption, and a person maybe ignored by others but deeply loved by Christ.
God’s presence is not seen in the removal of stress, of problems, even of suffering from human life, but in the fact that in spite of all of that, there is still the possibility of great goodness, great accomplishment, great growth and the satisfaction, the fulfilment that such brings.
It would have been very simple for Christ to have used his powers to rid the world of suffering and evil simply with a word. But to have done that would have been false to the Father’s design for the salvation of the world, salvation not through power, but through choice, conversion of mind and heart.
The real significance of the miracle stories is grasped, when they are seen not so much as sweeping proof of divine power, but rather as personal acts of goodness, simply an instance of a human being using whatever resource he has at his disposal, to be of help to another. That is the Father’s plan for salvation.
So, the only thing we really need to fear is the fact that we might fail to answer our call to growth in personal goodness. There is a great deal that each of us can do about the hungry, anxious, lonesome individual that lives close by to us, perhaps in our own families, perhaps just a few feet away in this church. And we will do it.
We will miss some opportunities for sure, but we won’t miss them all. We don’t even really need to fear our own failure. Isaiah’s words are true. Be strong. Don’t be afraid. God is here.