I believe I have my verse for Advent. It came as something of a surprise - a gift and a challenge dropped into my inner ear during mass last week. "Who is blind like my servant? Or so deaf as my messenger?" Isaiah 42:19.
That is odd, I thought. A Lenten scripture for Advent. But perhaps not so strange since Advent, like Lent, is a season of preparation - a good time for examination. In this case, it seems, I was being examined. Uncomfortable, but helpful. Introspection is only as good as one's self-knowledge, and many times the sickness in our souls lies smack in the middle of a blind spot.
So what is the Holy Spirit teaching me through this verse? I suspect I will be discovering that for a long while. But here is one challenge I understood immediately - I still judge by what I see with my eyes, and I am swayed by what I hear.
That is only human, I am tempted to say. In fact, I often speak about the blessing of our earthly senses as God-designed instruments of exploration and knowledge. I still believe this is true. Glorious music, holy art, heady incense, the touch of water on our skin, or oil on our heads, or a hand laid in blessing on the head - all of these stimuli can lead us into the presence of God.
And just as easily, the senses can lead us back out again.
The fault lies not in the body, but in the soul.
I wish it were not the case that I make assumptions about people based on the way they look. But I do.
I wish that presentation could never confuse my sense of truth. But it does.
For a moment last week, I pondered doing something crazy like the Old Testament prophets. What would I learn, I wondered, if I were to walk around blindfolded for an entire year? What if I could not even see myself? Part of my heart leapt at the thought, though I knew this was not the solution God had in mind.
Jesus was not literally blind or deaf. He did not despise the flesh He willingly took on. But He had internal eyes which always beheld the Father and spiritual ears tuned into the Father's voice. Jesus interpreted what he beheld with his eyes and ears through the grid of his spiritual senses. Unfortunately, my spiritual senses are not so well developed as my physical ones.
Training these spiritual senses are part of my work this Advent. And I have some little signs of encouragement. I "heard" my Father speak the verse from Isaiah 42 at mass on Saturday evening. Then, less than a day later, I heard this familiar Advent passage read at Hope Chapel.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots....
His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor (Isaiah 11:1,3)
That is the kind of blindness I am after!