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All these changes bring us to just one question: What is our greatest good?


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Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 03/19/20

As we consider our mortality, and face head on the continued sacrifices we will continue to make, we must remember the one thing always available to us: knowledge of God.

I have to admit I was greatly surprised. Of all the possible things in the world that Americans would rush to buy, I was genuinely shocked to observe the recent national run on toilet paper.

But we’ve adjusted far more than our shopping habits of late.

The recent changes in our daily living have affected every American, and it’s not just a matter of going without this or that household supply. Schools have closed. Millions are working from home. Restaurants and bars throughout the countryfor the time beingprovide only carryout or delivery service. Believers cannot even gather for Sunday worship…

Nothing has looked the same to me this week. Whether it’s the simple supplies available, the outreach of friends, or the gift of my own health. Senior priests who have seen it all are saying, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

And yet the changes to all of these facets of our daily living ask of us one question: what is our greatest good?

We are willing to upend our world for the good of our natural health, and rightly so. All of the necessary measures we have undertaken are for the protection of the most vulnerable among us. These health measures advance the common good. The sacrifices many of us are making are not for ourselves, they are for the health of others. And so it should be.

But the good of natural health should not, indeed cannot, keep us from our greatest good: the knowledge of God.

Men and women were not formed out of the dust of the earth for health. As we proclaimed in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday just weeks ago, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

As we consider our mortality, and face head on the continued sacrifices we will continue to make, we must remember the one thing always available to us: knowledge of God.

Jesus reminds us of this great gift that is knowledge of him this Sunday. In the extraordinary account of his healing of a man born blind, Jesus reminds us of the ability to draw mankind to himself.

The pharisees ask Christ the wrong question. They are trying to determine according to their mindset, according to their rule, the cause of the blind man’s condition. “Who sinned?” they ask the Lord.

Jesus reveals that the man was born blind, “that the works of God might be made visible through him.”

The greatest thing we have is the ability to see God, to know him. St. John says, elsewhere in his Gospel, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (17:3).

This is the knowledge that the man born blind comes to. The greatest moment in this Gospel passage is not that he miraculously receives sight. The height of this passage occurs when the man born blind makes his confession of faith. The man says to Jesus, “I do believe, Lord.” Then the man worships Christ.

Christ has opened not only the man’s natural eyes, but his spiritual eyes. The gift of faith is a true knowledge: it’s a spiritual seeing. To believe is to know that Christ is alive, present, at work. To believe is to know that I was made for knowledge of God, and not for anything that I can cling to in this life.

The effect of “spiritual sight” or the gift of faith is to assess things differently. We must see with the eyes of heaven, the eyes of eternity. To have faith is to put on the mind of Christ. We must cast aside pharisaical questions and see as Christ sees, know as Christ knows.

By faith we assent to Divine Truth which allows us to see and value the things of this world as they truly are. Faith is not contrary to our reason, but allows us to see the deeper meaning.

As people of faith we accept the burden of this quarantine. It is necessary for the good of our natural health. But we know God is not absent from our present situation. God will manifest himself in abundance. He will open our eyes, if we continue to pour out ourselves before him.

We must beg the Lord to rid us of our blindness. We must turn to Christ and ask him to cast out every fear, to drive away every shadow. We must ask him again and again to increase our faith. We must say to him, each and every one from the depths of our hearts must confess: “I do believe, Lord.”

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