SAUCIER — In plain sight


“Familiarity breeds contempt.”

That old Roman proverb, echoed in Augustine and Chaucer, stills rings true today.

One exception, though, may be Scripture.

Here, our familiarity tends more toward laziness or conceit. We’ve heard it a hundred times, and we get it already.

The lasting appeal of Scripture is that it is ever-new, with insights and revelations not bound by the time in which it was written.

Sometimes that’s hard to believe when we endure the same monotonous interpretation, the same unlabored exegesis each time a story is told.

Scripture takes work, not just on the part of the homilist, but on the listener, as well. We must imagine, engage and put ourselves in the story.

One way is to step into the sandals of one of the characters of the story.

Last Sunday, many of us heard John’s account of the healing of the man born blind. Jesus restores a man’s sight on the sabbath, and when the Pharisees hear of this, all Gehenna breaks loose.

Our first temptation is probably to become the man who sees his world for the first time. Maybe the more adventurous assume the role of Jesus to better understand what it might mean to have the power to heal.

I found myself drawn to the Pharisees.

These men, experts in the law and practitioners of a superior sanctity, were not evil. Most of them thought they were acting in the best interest of their people.

But we see them wiggle and worm, denying history and their own eyes, at the prospect of something that doesn’t fit into their worldview.

They claim Jesus is not from God because he does not keep the sabbath as they understand it.

They claim that a sinful man could not do such things, citing their allegiance to Moses, who they forget was a murderer.

They claim the man Jesus healed, who could now clearly see, had never been blind in the first place.

The Pharisees, on a path that once fit them, had become calcified in their ways, rigid in their thinking, hardened in their hearts.

They loved what they believed, but could not accept another who, as John Caputo might say, simply believed what he loved.

While no Pharisee, I think of them when I fail to see the miracles around me because of the prejudices I harbor, the insecurity that threatens, and the change I fear.

Maybe in the next story, I’ll be Jesus.