1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
Today’s first reading speaks to me of those times in my own life when the going got tough and I wanted to, or did, let go of ways of living that I knew were right for me in favor of the "easy fix" that felt good in the moment. For the sons of daughters of Israel, when they felt beset by evil, they abandoned their authentic relationship to God and assumed the identity and foreign practices of the Gentiles in the hopes of paving their way to a more agreeable life.
And isn’t that really what any of us does when we worship false idols – whether it’s the golden calf or the more modern version – the goods we desire, the romance we yearn for, the guarantee we seek, the recognition we crave – aren’t these also the ways in which we become distant from our deeper selves, distracted by the promise of a magical cure that exists outside of us rather than within?
It didn’t work for the Israelites and it doesn’t work for us.
In the Gospel, a radical spiritual reality is revealed. All the blind man needed to do to find healing was simply to come to Jesus in faith and with an open heart. All the worship in the world, all the proper religious observance in and of itself, devoid of love and humility, could not guarantee the restoration of his sight.
Being willing to come before God in our brokenness-sightless, wounded, wandering in the mystery of our own lives-in other words, vulnerable and real-is to stand spiritually raw before our Creator and allow His love to make us whole. Jesus gave Himself on the Cross so that we could know in our own hearts the love and hope there is in being human despite its frailties and failures.
Perhaps today there is a sacrifice we can authentically make out of our real relationship to God, not as an entreaty for a wonderful future, but as an expression of love and gratitude for being cherished by Him so dearly.
Nancy Nickel is director of marketing and communications at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois.