I can’t stand driving in Northern Virginia… specifically on the roads running along the Potomac’s southern bank. Granted, they’re beautiful, boasting some of the most scenic approaches to D.C.’s monumental core… but I wish the signs were bigger!
My running theory is that under the Parks Service the roads are beautifully kept, but the Parks Service signs stink. They’re the same ones you see in all national parks: small white letters in quaint font plastered against a ubiquitous forest green background. They work wonderfully driving at five miles per hour on a deserted road in Yellowstone… not so well at fifty miles an hour in a city where everyone is in a rush and in the same road as you all the time! I want bigger signs, but if I’m honest with myself I have to admit… the signs are there.
Today’s mass readings are replete with a similar truth: Cain murders Abel jealous that God likes Abel more. Nowhere does it say however that God didn’t love Cain, just that his plant sacrifices weren’t as impressive as Abel’s animal offerings. Cain was beloved of God… even after his transgression, God did not allow anyone to kill him. Note also, it was Cain’s decision to leave God’s presence. Why couldn’t Cain see the signs that were there?
In the Psalm, we read,
“You sit speaking against your brother;
against your mother’s son you spread rumors.
When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.”
The Lord himself promises to draw sins before our eyes so that we can correct them and grow beyond then. Why do we have so much trouble identifying our sins?
Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus is tested by the Pharisees “seeking from him a sign from heaven.” Were the miracles already done by Jesus not enough? Even without miracles, wasn’t his manifest goodness enough to convince them at least that he wasn’t the bad guy they suspected?
A certain myopia seems to afflict our humanity. To be honest I think the reasons are different for each person and circumstance, but the common lesson seems to be: pray for vision, pray for the peace where vision can do its work, and pray for the will to carry out what vision reveals. Pray to see with eyes of faith.