Jan. 27, 2019: 3rd Sunday C
Have you ever found yourself so distracted that it was difficult to focus on what matters the most? We know God is calling us to walk His path, yet distractions of life pull us away from ever starting on His path or persevering on His path. Sometimes we lack the focus of our soul and the resolve of our will. When I searched online for “How to focus,” I came across a meditation titled “Focused” by a Christian woman named Lilias Trotter (d. 1928). In the meditation, she recalled her experience of a morning walk through the woods when the bright sun shined its radiance on a small, pitiful dandelion. She wrote, “It was just a dandelion, and half withered - but it was full face to the sun, and had caught into its heart all the glory it could hold, and was shining so radiantly that the dew that lay on it still made a perfect aureole round its head. And it seemed to talk, standing there - to talk about the possibility of making the very best of these lives of ours. For if the Sun of Righteousness has risen upon our hearts, there is an ocean of grace and love and power lying all around us, an ocean to which all earthly light is but a drop, and it is ready to transfigure us, as the sunshine transfigured the dandelion, and on the same condition - that we stand full face to God.”
St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians that each of us is an essential part of the Body of Christ, however small or insignificant we appear to others or to ourselves. To each of us, the radiance of the Holy Spirit has shone upon us. He wrote, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary… But God has so constructed the body...so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it…” This one Body has one focus, to proclaim and live the Good News of Jesus Christ. Think about the times in your life when you were focused on this mission. What fruits came forth from your life? And now think about the times in your life when you were distracted from this mission. What was the result of your loss of focus?
Jesus enters into our lives just as he entered the synagogue in Nazareth in today’s Gospel. We are told that all the eyes in the synagogue were intently focused on Jesus as he read passages from the Prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord… Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus has entered into our lives through baptism and continues to do so through His Sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments. He wants us to focus upon him and receive the radiance of His love, mercy, and strength. The remedy for the distractions in our lives is to focus upon Jesus, to rediscover His love for us, and to walk His path to holiness.
So now back to Lilias Trotter and the small pamphlet, “Focused”, she wrote. Her powerful words are now etched in my mind 1— “Gathered up, focussed lives, intent on one aim - Christ - these are the lives on which God can concentrate blessedness.” How easy it is for the disciples of Christ to get caught up in the things of earth so that our heavenly vision and values become blurred and dull. The blurring of our focus also happens when we are so busy doing things instead of spending time deepening our relationship with Christ. Just as I was touched by the words of Ms. Trotter’s pamphlet, a woman named Helen Lemmel was also touched by Ms. Trotter’s pamphlet. Ms. Lemmel could not dismiss the words of the pamphlet from her mind. She wrote, “Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody…” So she wrote the following hymn that is still beloved today. May the words of this hymn remind us to refocus our eyes of our hearts on Jesus, to love Him, and to live for Him.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Fr Paul sings Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus