My plant had bugs. At first, I hadn’t noticed them. It was just one fruit fly, after all. Kind of like a coworker in my office. Actually, the reason I bought the plant in the first place was because my office was some distance from my human coworkers and I felt the need for something alive. So, that being said, you can see why that first fruit fly was more of a companion than a bother.
Back then, I was blind to the fact that where there is one fruit fly there’s a pretty good chance that there will be more. And soon there were. Fruit flies had invaded my office. So I asked for help. A woman I worked with made a couple of suggestions and I made a trip to the garden center. I bought stuff to put in the soil to help me get to the root of the problem and a trap to help me catch the flies that were dive bombing my desk.
What would happen, I wonder, if I had chosen to remain blind to my winged companions? Would they have gone away by themselves? Probably not. Most likely they would have settled down and produced even more offspring. That’s usually what happens when we refuse to see things as they really are.
Maybe that’s why the church gives us Lent. Because, like my plant, sometimes our souls have “bugs” (or “sins,” if you prefer). At first, it may be only one or two, and we might actually be quite comfortable with them. But there’s a pretty good chance that there will be more. And before we know it, the sin to which we were blind in the beginning has invaded our lives. And we have to ask for help.
The blind man in John’s Gospel regained his sight because he asked Jesus for help. The sacrament of reconciliation offers us the same opportunity. Is there something buzzing around in our lives that shouldn’t be there? Something that we’ve become so comfortable with that we no longer see it? Jesus can help, but first we must admit our blindness. Do we believe?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the Diocese of Green Bay.