When I read Spirit for Sunday, March 4th, a unifying theme that emerges for me is compassionate vision. With faith, we can have moments of seeing people clearly. We can see people for who God made them to be. If we use compassionate vision, we can start to see God’s presence alive and well in the world. We can grow a worldview of abundance and grace that is rooted in God’s presence here and now.
In the Gospel this week, Peter, James and John see Jesus for who he really is. They see Jesus literally light up, and hear God say that Jesus is God’s son. His divinity shines in his humanity. Maybe before this moment, they saw Jesus as a friend and mentor. But on the mountain, with eyes of faith, compassionate vision takes over. It is as if, for the first time, the disciples really truly see Jesus.
Has there been a time in your life when you are struck with the real presence of Jesus? What did that look like? What did that feel like? Where do you go to look for Jesus in your life?
In the story about The Bridge, Kalvin is having trouble with his teachers, his father, his football schedule and his grandmother. Finally, he decides to go to The Bridge. There, he is met with compassionate vision. People do not see him as simply a trouble maker or marijuana user, but as a young man dedicated to getting his GED. He gets the attention he needs from teachers who see his learning potential.
Do you have teachers you feel like really see you? Who in your life uses compassionate vision to help you remember who God made you to be? Who sees your potential?
When Malcolm went to The Bridge, he could have been seen as a young man who has been abused and spent time in juvenile detention, and is now staying at a shelter. Unfortunately, all three of those things come with a lot of assumptions and negative connotations. Malcolm says, however, that he feels safe at The Bridge, like it is a place where people are friendly and help him build a life. People there use compassionate vision to see past the stereotypes and see him the way God sees him.
Have you ever caught yourself stereotyping someone else? What would it take for your school or youth group to practice more compassionate vision?
Sacraments help us grow our compassionate vision. Our faith can, at times, seem so intangible and transcendent. Sacraments make God visible. Things like water, oil, bread, and hands are real life elements that can symbolize healing and God’s love for us here in this place. By engaging in the sacraments, we become signs of God’s presence in the world. We can take the compassionate vision that is nurtured during the sacraments and bring it to other areas of our lives.
What sacraments do you enjoy? How do you feel that you represent God’s presence in the world? What would it look like if you pledged to use compassionate vision this Lent, to try to see each person as who God made him or her to be?