Can you see?
It is the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, that you would give everything you own to possess. Yet not everyone did; not everyone does. The rich young ruler didn’t, or not at first. (May one hope that he may have changed his mind?). Was it just the lure of possessions, or his own personal status? Was it simply the idea, prevalent at the time, that riches meant you were blessed by God? Or was it that he couldn’t see what he was being asked to do, Who he was being asked to follow. That he couldn’t see even the brief glimpse of Who Jesus was that the disciples had? Because I wonder if, had he been able to see, had he had the faith to see where God was, he couldn’t have failed to sell all he possessed to follow Jesus. For in that following he would become who he was truly meant to be, in ways far beyond anything he knew.
The disciples do seem to have seen, or at least had a glimpse. It is clear from the Gospels that they don’t truly see until after the Resurrection. Even then, I suspect there was years of pondering on the implications, on what it all meant; years that may come out particularly in John’s gospel. But they saw enough initially to follow this strange preacher wherever he led; followed closely enough so that after his death they didn’t just scatter in the belief that it was all over, but stayed together in Jerusalem, so that they were together for what happened next. But even at first they saw something, something that led them to follow where Jesus called, a following that gradually opened their eyes to a deeper seeing, a process that must have consumed the rest of their lives.
How come they saw when others didn’t? I don’t have an answer to that one. I could speculate, but that might not be helpful. But it is certain that there were some who saw, and some who didn’t. Mary Magdalene was one of a group of women who accompanied the disciples, women who had been healed by Jesus, who also followed. What of those who had been healed, yet didn’t follow? Such as the ten lepers, of whom only one came back to give thanks? What of Pharisees such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who saw enough to go further, where their colleagues didn’t? Colleagues who may have been just as observant in their faith? and what of now? What is it that we see, that others don’t? What is it we see when entering a church building, where others may see simply architecture? What do we see in the body of Christ, the people in the church, which others might miss?
Or do we? When looking at our fellow Christians, do we truly see the body of Christ. or do we see people who annoy us, people who we do or do not choose to spend time with? Do we see Christ in our Church (buildings or people) or do we see what we are used to seeing? What is it that blocks our sight, of Who we follow, and the truly amazing wonder of that, that prompts us to give everything? and are we looking for what blocks our sight, or do we not realise that there is anything blocking us? Are we looking to see Jesus in all around us, or we just seeing what is in front of us?
For we don’t see truly (or, at any rate, I don’t; I maybe shouldn’t speak for you…). Yet we all have messed up sight to some extent, and our journey is part of what brings us to see more clearly, more truly, more deeply. To see the wonder of Who God is; of Who is asking us to follow; of Who is asking us to let go of anything that gets in the way of that. The rich young ruler was asked to give up his possessions, and couldn’t. What is being asked of us? We may be lucky enough to not have to make a decision all at once. Jesus calls us, but calls us continually, and our following is a lifetime journey of seeing more clearly. Of seeing our mixed motivation, and our lacklustre following; of realising where we have gone astray, and coming back to the path again; of clearing the beams out of our eyes; of clearing away the dross, so that our seeing becomes purer, and we see beyond what our sight shows us.
So that eventually we realise that what we clung to so closely is irrelevant in the sight of Who God truly is; and that we most love, we regain, brothers, sisters, houses, family, even a hundred fold, but in ways we may never now realise. We are asked to let go; but if we can see, however dimly, we may realise that we are letting go of what we do not truly need, or even want, to gain something worth far more: who we truly are, in the love of God, surrounded by all those others, who also are on the journey to they truly can be.
[Matthew 14:44-46; Matthew 19:16-30]