What Are You Looking at in the New Year?

What do you see as your place in the world and what's going on around you? Have you done a "vision check" lately?
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source: Catholic.Net

     Now that you are older than you were, what about your vision?  You know, your “interior” vision, not whether or not you have go to the local drug store to buy a pair of stronger readers. Vision is actually an interior condition.  It’s the way you look at life and your place in it. As people of faith we are expected to see the world as it is and possess a “vision” of the world that is “here and now” and “then” at the same time.  It’s what gives a point of view that is radically different from those who do not believe.  If you have the opportunity to be around people who study theology this concept is expressed as understanding that faith is about things that are “already but not yet”, realities that exist but have not yet become visible in the world. 
      Sometimes we are the victims of a vision that has been hijacked by: the circumstances around us, the press of the world, grief, anger, need, and focus on others’ problems.  As a believer, vision should be the fuel that keeps us going when nothing else makes sense. The letter to the Hebrews puts it this way; “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for or prove the existence of realities that at present remain unseen.  It was for faith that our ancestors were commended” (Heb 11:1-2).  From this passage we see that the writer of this letter reminds us of our responsibility regarding our vision.  Blessings and their fruit actually exist in us before they are ever visible in the world. They are planted there by God and are to be nurtured by us before they are released to the world at large. We are charged to firmly keep the vision and pass it on. 

In that scripture is also implied a greater reality that we often pay no attention to. Besides simply being heralds of the faith, as if that wasn’t enough, we are especially messengers of “things invisible”.  This implicitly includes; who we are in eternity, not just here on earth.  Procopius of Gaza (d. 538 C.E.) puts it this way; “For just as in cities when the king is absent the people worship his image, so God being invisible to all creation appointed us to the position of image for creation, so that in the service of that image [other people] may honor [and know] the divinity which is invisible to them.”  Our true journey on earth is actualizing our relationship with God, nothing more, nothing less. Our time here is not the ante-room to eternity but, in reality, the first segment of the journey. 

      So when we think about vision and how it drives and shapes our lives we must be careful not to be distracted by what “seems” immanently more important, all the things that are right at the “end of our nose” that seem bigger than life and of utmost importance.  It is oh so easy to let our attention drift and be tempted into giving these things all of our attention as well as our spiritual and emotional energy.  Not that job, money, relationships, family are not important.  But when we see the “signs” that these things are becoming of greater importance than “keeping the faith” and nurturing God’s vision for the world we need to re-evaluate.  If worries about job, hearth, home and family are demanding our constant attention and causing us sleepless nights along with continuous anxiety, we have been “hijacked”.  This would be a time to rethink our vision as Catholic believers. Things in our world can seem so utterly important, urgent matters of life and death as we know it.  But that’s just the “smoke screen”.

      By virtue of our belief in Christ and the incarnation we have the responsibility to be the “incarnation present” in the world.  As we have been given this information by virtue of our confirmation and baptism we are expected to give this vision of life to the world.  The vision of a savior who is real  and life with him forever, is a message that the world desperately needs.  We are the ones to carry it to the world, not shelve it for later when we die.  We are the keepers and animators of the vision.  It is what gives us life that is worth living and brings sanity to an insane world. 

       It is more important to bring this vision to the world than anything else that we could ever do. It is the only legitimate source of life that exists.  When we become immersed in blatant consumerism and “keeping up with the Joneses” we are actually running from the message that is life giving while running toward death.  When we turn our face away from God in lieu of something that is “more important” we are actually participating in the culture of death.  It is what stirs our soul and leaves us feeling abandoned, depressed and lonely. When our eyes are not focused on God’s promise for us, it creates an unspeakable sadness within us that no pharmaceutical can remedy. 

      Keeping and teaching the vision is not a task that is reserved for the religious of the world.  It’s our task, each and every one of us.  It’s not complicated.  We must be willing to admit we are believers whenever the subject comes up. We must be faithful to the Church and its laws.  We must be willing to pray in public and private whenever needed. We must have a developed prayer life of our own so that we are in close touch with whatever directions that the Lord wants to give us. Keeping the vision is not a matter of extraordinary piety or moving to a hermitage or joining a religious order.  It is a matter of being a transparent believer, proud and excited to talk about the Lord when ever the opportunity occurs. It is not an impossible task. As a matter of fact, it is a matter of life and death for the world and all of those we come in contact with, who don’t have the vision or know the joy of the Lord. The disciples were people just like us and the Lord expects nothing less of us right now.  So far, the vision has been passed on for 2000 years.  Right here, right now, it’s our job to be the ones who pass it on for another 2000!  Check your vision, make sure it’s crystal clear!  Refocus for 2010 and tune up your spiritual "battle gear" for the next decade of the third millennium , better than a resolution!  


Copyright © 2009, Kathryn M. Cunningham, all rights reserved. 

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