Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily for April 3, 2011 – Look for the Light

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4 Lent A – April 3, 2011 – Look for the Light

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-6, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

Complete biblical texts

A few years ago a man started playing a violin in a Washington Metro station. In 45 minutes only six people stopped to listen. No one noticed it was the world famous Joshua Bell playing beautifully, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

You might be saying, well, if it were hip hop or blues or jazz more people would have stopped. Good point. The Washington Post sponsored this experiment precisely to learn about people’s perceptions, tastes and priorities. One conclusion from the study suggested that if people do not take time to notice the beautiful things around them how much else could they be missing in life.

The gospel of John deals with the issues of an early Christian community which, having been expelled from the synagogues and still being persecuted, felt alienated from the world and hostile toward outsiders. [1] The story about the man born blind is a counterpoint and reminds us of last week’s gospel about Photina the Samaritan woman. This week the blind man did the same thing she did. Both of them took life changing risks in recognizing Jesus as the savior.

The story invites us to reflect on how we perceive what is going on around us. We spend most of our day interacting with designed environments: clothing, packaging, commercials, news media and devices plugged into our ears. Some studies tell us most humans miss about 90% of what is going on in their daily routines. People in that Washington subway were too much in a hurry, distracted or busy to notice something beautiful. The more we get overloaded with tasks and information, the more we disconnect from others.

In the words of Annie Dillard, “Beauty and grace are performed whether we will or sense them. The least thing we can do is try to be there.” [2] God is present to us all the time whether we want God there or not. The least we can do is recognize God’s presence in many, sometimes surprising, ways — in changing seasons, little children and elderly parents, in wealthy and poor persons; in far away strangers and close friends, in good times and in bad. We can be more aware of this ever present, all loving God by slowing down, prioritizing tasks and learning that we cannot do everything.

Some say this is unrealistic. Multitasking is how we get a lot done and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Yes, these arguments may be true. However, what are we missing by not trying to alter our priorities, tasks and workloads?

In the first reading David, a ruddy shepherd, was the least likely candidate to lead God’s people. He was probably quite content tending to his sheep. Yet, God chose him to do something that radically changed his life. We may not get to do all that we want to do in life and sometimes things don’t go our way. What matters is that we do not ignore the presence of God in all that surrounds us. Then, we can be a light to those around us.

Annie Dillard also wrote, “I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.” There are three people in our congregation who are doing exactly that. Ann, Kelly and Rob are fast approaching membership in the Catholic church. Attentive to the brightness of the Son of God their response is to take a bold life changing step, to be lights to the world.

You and I can follow the same light to see a world of new possibilities presented by God. Like David, the Samaritan woman and the man born blind we can find a way in the busy subways of our lives to notice the beautiful things around us.

1 Brown, Raymond. The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York: Paulist) 1979, 72

2 Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (NY: Harper) 1974

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

5 thoughts on “Homily for April 3, 2011 – Look for the Light

  1. Fr. Vosko,
    I just wanted to be sure that when our class ends I am still able to read your homilies.
    Thanks,
    Joe Brousseau

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  2. I have not been keeping up with you lately and am happy to return and find this. Beautifully put and the Annie Dillard lines just bring everything into focus for me.

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  3. Thanks for reminding me to be in a state of preparedness (Nouwen)- to be patient and alert for the Light’s shining in the places of darkness in my life.

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  4. Your words this morning reminded me of Teilhard deChardin’s words about the noosphere,(sp?) and the current popularity of the discipline of meditation. Conversations about “being awake”, “noticing”, “awareness”, “in the now” are, for me, contemporary language about becoming, moment by moment, Light for the world. It is Christ who dwells in us and enables us to recognize the Light, and be the Light, if we are intentional about it. Your homily helped me to realize, a bit more than before I came to St. V’s today, that the world, as difficult as things are in so many arenas, is evolving into a world and people of the Light. Thanks, once again, for your breaking open the Word.

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  5. I know this homily has and will touch many but it hit me right in my heart as if you were speaking only to me. ‘The more we get overloaded with tasks and information the more we disconnect from others.’ Thanks I needed that.

    HOW did you come to quote Annie Dillard? I was just reading about her before Mass yesterday; she was cited by Mary Collins as a woman who is an ‘unashamed God-seeker and who has not been afraid to trust and to give imaginative experssion to her experience of God…” Being present to the light to be light…I will take that with me this week.

    Thank you Richard.

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