Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds!
And blessed be his glorious Name forever!
and may all the earth be filled with his glory.
Amen. Psalm 72:18-19
This Lent I will ask for grace to become a Seer of God’s Blessings. In the 11th and 12th verses of the 8th Chapter of the Gospel according to Mark, the Pharisees come and argue with Jesus, asking him to give them a sign from heaven as a test. Jesus sighs deeply and says “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation” and he leaves them and sails off across the sea of Galilee in a boat. Jesus has good reason to sound irritated. He has just performed the miracle of feeding four thousand people with seven loaves and a few small fish. Not only this, but behind Jesus is a glorious trail of wondrous deeds that the Father has performed through him. But the Pharisees are blinded from seeing these signs because of their focus on their own hard-hearted agenda. This blindness will lead them to plot successfully to kill Jesus. Although they have sought to be the spiritual super-heroes of the nation of Israel, they have not recognized “the Lord God, the God of Israel” when he was standing right in front of them.
This was a soul-searing tragedy. How can I avoid it myself? This Lent my answer is to seek to become a Seer of God’s Blessings. To set the stage: Who is the Lord God and how can I see him and see his works? The Apostle John has given some help in his Gospel and in the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. Without going through these scriptures verse by verse, here is my “Dummy’s” perspective that may sound suspiciously like the Nicene Creed. God is omnipotent. He created the universe and all that composes its physical being and all that is hidden to us beyond the Veil. He is omniscient. That is, he knows all that has been and all that will be, and all that could have been and all that could possibly be. In addition to this tremendous knowledge and infinite power, God is infinitely wise and compassionate. He can and has devised the best possible ends for all he has created and has devised the best possible means to achieve those ends with his infinite power. This plan was prophesized by Habakkuk: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. God is the Holy Trinity, three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one perfect being. The center piece of his plan was the Son’s entry into human history as the human being Jesus Christ. When in John’s Gospel the disciple Philip asks Jesus to show the Father to his disciples, Jesus replies “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” The risen Lord commissioned his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Out of obedience to this commission came the Church. The Church is Christ’s body carrying out this commission. I love Church history because in seeing the works and events of the Church, I am seeing Jesus and therefore seeing God the Father working out his plan. The challenge to being a Seer of God’s Blessings is to perceive how the events and circumstances we experience are part of God’s infinitely good plan for blessing us so that we can give him glory.
Seers have been described in societies around the world throughout the course of human history. They have been considered to have had supernatural powers of perceiving the meaning of that which seems obscure to others. Pagan seers have been associated with the occult. Greek generals consulted seers before going into battle. Seers for the Lord have been interpreters and clarifiers of eternal truth. Gad was an Old Testament seer who told David to terminate his exile and return to Judah, eventually to be anointed King of Israel from whom the Messiah would be descended. Gad was also commanded by an angel of the Lord to direct David to build an altar to stop a plague. How can I develop a Seer’s sight for the Lord without somehow falling into fallacies of the occult?
St. John provides Jesus’s answer to this problem in the Fourteenth Chapter of his gospel. Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” If I am to be a Seer of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, I have Jesus’s promise that I can do so with the power of the Holy Spirit. But with the condition that I love Jesus and keep his commandments.In the dotage of my 76th year I can look back and see many examples of blessings God bestowed on me without my anticipation or perception that they were blessings. They were often situations or challenges that at the time were hard to live through and at best had obscure purposes. But with the advantage of hindsight and the Holy Spirit, they fall into marvelous patterns that lead up to situations and conditions for which I can truly thank the Lord. So, I am encouraged to look prayerfully at present circumstances. To be a Seer of God’s Blessings, I shall try to find hints of God’s plan in the situations in which my family, my friends, the nation, and the world struggle. I have no predetermined method or technique for going forward. I anticipate that I must set aside time for contemplation, prayer, and study of Scripture. With the help of these practices and the Helper, I intend to seek to be a Seer; to thank God for what I perceive him to be doing each day and for the blessings that that I anticipate by faith will come of these situations. Perhaps you might consider a similar Lenten exercise for yourself.