Blinded by the wrong vision …

Preached at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bailey’s Crossroads, Va., on the Third Sunday of Advent.

My friends in Christ, Father James has asked me to speak this morning to all of us gathered here, which means that part of this sermon will be in English, and part will be in Spanish. I need to tell you that my Spanish, while good, is nowhere near as strong as it could be … so I ask you to bear with me on that … please.

Mis amigos en Crist0, Padre James me ha pedido hablar esta mañana a todos los que estamos aquí reunidos, lo que significa que parte de este sermon sera en Ingles, y una parte sera en español. Perdoname, pero yo quiero ustedes sepan que mi español no es muy fuerte. Pero voy a tratar de ser claro para que puede entender lo que estoy tratando de decir, de acuerdo?

Bueno …

En el nombre de un solo Dios, Padre, Hijo y Espiritu Santo. In the name of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

How often do we look at something and decide we know what it means, that we understand what we are seeing – only to discover, later, that we were wrong?

Con que frecuencia nos fijamos en algo y decidimos que saben lo que significa, que entendemos lo que estamos viendo – solo para descubrir, mas tarde, que nos equivocamos?

How often do we look at something we have typed on our computers and miss the typos?

For many years, I was a newspaper editor. Part of my job was to design  each page of the paper, to decide what story went where, what the  headlines would say, how big the pictures would be.

Cuando yo trabajaba como editor de un periódico, una parte de mi trabajo era diseñar cada página, para decidir qué historia fue que, lo que los titulares que dicen, lo grande que las fotos serían.

Every night, before we put the newspaper to bed (as we used to say),  several of us would gaze at the front page, reading every word of every  headline, desperate to make sure that there were no errors.

Todas las noches, varios de nosotros se vería en la primera página, la lectura de cada palabra de cada título para asegurarse de que no hubo errores.

But some nights, no matter how hard we tried, we would still get it wrong.

Pero algunas noches, no importa lo duro que lo intentamos, que todavía se equivocan.

Like the night there was a helicopter crash, and despite the fact that 10 of us – TEN of us – read the headline before we went to press, all 10 of missed the fact that I had spelled helicopter H-E-L-P-I-C-O-T-E-R – HELPICOTER.

Al igual que la noche que escribe “helicóptero” como “helpicotero.” Que era malo.

And then there was the lawyer in town whose name I could not spell correctly no matter how hard I tried. Every time I put Mr. Snyder’s name in a headline, everyone would look it over to make sure it was right. Yet … three times in one year, instead of spelling his name S-N-Y-D-E-R, I managed to make it –S-Y-N-D-E-R. Mr. Snyder later married my best friend … and told me I could NOT help with the wedding invitations, thank you very much.

O las tres veces que me indicación de su nombre un abogado de forma incorrecta en la pagina primera. Que era malo.

We all make these mistakes.

Todos cometemos estos errores.

We all look at something and decide – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously – that we know what we are seeing.

Nos fijamos en algo y decidir que sabemos lo que estamos viendo.

Many times, we are wrong.

Muchas veces, nos equivocamos.

Many times, we are only seeing what we want to see … not the truth that is standing right there in front of us.

Muchas veces, sólo vemos lo que queremos ver … no la verdad que está de pie justo delante de nosotros.

That is the problem from which John the Baptist suffers in this morning’s Gospel.

Ese es el problema de que Juan el Bautista sufre en el Evangelio de esta mañana.

John is in prison, put there by Herod for exposing the truth about Herod. He knows he’s in real trouble, and that he probably will die for having stood up to the powers-that-be.

Juan está en la cárcel, puesto allí por Herodes por decir la verdad … y Juan va a morir porque le dijo la verdad sobre Herodes.

In his last days, John seems to be trying to make sense of his life. He is, after all, the one who came before, to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. He is the one who told us – just last week, if you remember:

But one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals.

Juan quiere dar sentido a su vida. Recuerde, él es el que proclama la venida del Mesías. Él es el que dijo, la semana pasada, recuerde:

Pero aquel que es más poderoso que yo viene detrás de mí, yo no soy digno de llevarle las sandalias.

And furthermore, John proclaimed as he faced down the St. John the Baptist Preaching (ca. 1650),

Pharisees and the Sadducees — the ones he branded the “brood of vipers”:                                Mattia Preti (1613-1699),

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Y además, Juan proclamado como se enfrentó a los fariseos y los saduceos – los que marca la “generación de víboras”:

Él os bautizará con el Espíritu Santo y fuego. El tenedor aventar está en su mano, y limpiará su era y recogerá su trigo en el granero, pero la paja la quemará con fuego inextinguible.

That was John’s vision of who the Messiah would be: a powerful person.

Esa fue la visión de Juan de que el Mesías sería: una persona poderosa.

That was John’s vision of what the Messiah would do: he would cleanse the earth of the unworthy ones, get rid of those who did not meet John’s high standards.

Esa fue la visión de Juan de lo que el Mesías iba a hacer: iba a limpiar la tierra de los indignos, deshacerse de los malos.

John had a vision, all right.

Juan tuvo una visión, seguro.

A vision of fire and brimstone, of judgment day, of the worthy ones being received and the evil ones cast out.

Una visión de fuego y azufre, del día del juicio, de los dignos de ser recibidos y los malos arrojados.

The problem was, John’s vision blinded him to the vision.

El problema era que la visión de Juan le cegaba la visión.

And because of that blinding vision of his own making, John, the last Old Testament prophet, could not see that the one he himself had proclaimed was right there in front of him.

Juan, el último profeta del Antiguo Testamento, no podía ver que la que él mismo había proclamado estaba allí frente a él.

He sent word to Jesus:

Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?

Él le preguntó a Jesús: ¿Eres tú el que ha de venir, o debemos esperar a otro?

You know that Jesus had to be shaking his head when he heard this question:

Am I the one who is to come?

John!

You’re my cousin!

You have seen what I have done!

The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. The poor have good news brought to them.

John … what more do you want?!

Ustedes saben que Jesús tuvo que ser moviendo la cabeza al oír esta pregunta:

¿Soy yo el que ha de venir?

Juan!

Usted es mi primo!

Usted ha visto lo que he hecho.

Los ciegos ven. Los cojos andan. Los que tienen lepra son sanados. Los sordos oyen. Los muertos resucitan. Los pobres se les anuncian las buenas nuevas.

Juan … ¿qué más quieres?!

• • •

What more do you want?

How often is John’s problem our problem?

How often does our vision blind us to God’s vision?

We decide to see the world the way we want to see it.

But in doing so, we miss the world the way it is.

And worse, we miss the world that God wants us to see.

¿Qué más quieres?

¿Con qué frecuencia es el problema de Juan es nuestro problema?

¿Con qué frecuencia nuestra visión nos ciega la visión de Dios?

Decidimos ver el mundo como queremos verlo.

Pero al hacerlo, perdemos de vista el mundo tal como es.

Y lo peor, echamos de menos el mundo que Dios quiere que veamos.

God does not call us to see the world as we want to see it.

God calls us to see the world as it is.

And then … then … God calls us to see the world as it can be.

As God wants it to be.

Dios no nos llama a ver el mundo como queremos verlo.

Dios nos llama a ver el mundo tal como es.

Y entonces … entonces … Dios nos llama a ver el mundo como puede ser.

Así como Dios quiere que sea.

To quote Robert F. Kennedy (who was, actually, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw[1]):

Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream thing that never were and say, why not?[2]

God wants us to ask, “Why not?”

Roberto F. Kennedy solía decir:

Algunas personas ven las cosas como son, y se preguntan ¿por qué? Yo sueño cosas que nunca fueron y digo, ¿por qué no?

El Buen Señor nos quiere preguntar, “¿Por qué no?”

This is what you are doing in this parish right now.

You are looking at the world around you – at your immediate community – and you are asking yourselves, “Why not?”

Why not create a new vision for this parish?

Why not discern a new way to serve graciously your neighbors and all seekers who come through your doors?

Why not develop a neighborhood ministry that bears God’s hope to Bailey’s Crossroads?

Esto es lo que está sucediendo en este iglesia ahora.

Ustedes están mirando al mundo alrededor de ustedes – en su comunidad inmediata – y que se pregunten, “¿Por qué no?”

¿Por qué no crear una nueva visión de esta iglesia?

¿Por qué no discernir una nueva manera de servir amablemente a sus vecinos y todos los solicitantes que pasan por sus puertas?

¿Por qué no desarrollar un ministerio de barrio que tiene la esperanza de Dios a Bailey’s Crossroads?

In this discernment process, with your vision of embracing all people, you are living into God’s vision for what the world can be and should be.

Con su visión de abrazar a todas las personas, que viven en la visión de Dios por lo que el mundo puede ser y debe ser.

You are like the monk who went to Abba Joseph and asked, “What more should I do?”, to which Abba Joseph replied, as his fingers became like 10 lamps of fire,  “Why not be transformed into fire?”[3]

You are being transformed …

You are refusing to be like John, who in the isolation of prison let his vision imprison him.

Instead of being blinded and imprisoned by your own vision, you are opening yourselves up to God’s vision … of who you are … and of who you can be.

Ustedes están siendo transformados …

Ustedes se niegan a ser como Juan, que la cárcel que su visión encarcelarlo.

En lugar de ser cegado y encarcelado por su propia visión, ustedes están abriendo a sí mismos hasta la visión de Dios … de quien ustedes son … y de quién ustedes pueden ser.

In this season of Advent, we are called to set aside our vision of the world so that we can see God’s vision … a vision of incredible, radical, eternal love.

En este tiempo de Adviento, se nos llama a dejar de lado nuestra visión del mundo para que podamos ver la visión de Dios … una visión del incredible, radical, eterna amor.

We don’t want to be like John the Baptist, who was so focused on his own vision that he was blinded to the vision.

We want to see the vision, Jesus’ vision … of a world where the blind are made to see, and the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk, and the mute to sing with joy …  where the lepers are cleansed and the dead are resurrected and the poor do receive the Good News.

No queremos ser como Juan el Bautista, que estaba tan concentrado en su propia visión de que era ciego a la visión.

Nosotros queremos ver la visión, la visión de Jesús … de un mundo en el que los ciegos se hacen para ver, y los sordos oyen, y los cojos anden, y el silencio para cantar con alegría … donde los que tienen lepra son sanados y los muertos son resucitados, ya los pobres reciben la buena nueva.

That’s Jesus’ vision.

That’s God’s vision … for each of us and for all of us.

Esa es la visión de Jesús.

Esa es la visión de Dios … para cada uno de nosotros y para todos nosotros.

Now is not the time for us to blinded by what we have seen.

Now is the time for us to see what God wants us to see.

A vision of the world as it can be.

Ahora no es el momento de que cegados por lo que hemos visto.

Ahora es el momento para nosotros para ver lo que Dios quiere que veamos.

Una visión del mundo tal y como se puede.

Why not?

¿Por qué no?

Amen.

[1] George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah, 1921.

[2] Robert F. Kenney, speech at the University of Kansas, 16 March 1968.

[3] The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, Thomas Merton, New Directions Books, Norfolk, CT, 1960, p. 50.

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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