By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH
I would guess that she was about five years old. The parish hall was filled with people eagerly awaiting the performance of the Irish dancers. The music makers were ready to strum their guitars and at that first strum, the dancers raised their feet in rhythm as they faced their audience. About four feet away, to the left of the dancers, was the five-year-old little lady facing the stage. Oblivious to all on-lookers, it was clear her focus was on the professionals. She was in her zone. She was a delight. Her little body moved as quickly as it could. Sometimes, the dance was hard work and she lifted her small hand to brush aside a curl as she continued with unabashed freedom and all the dignity of a child of God. Her round happy face shone with brilliant, intense and serious joy.
Sunday’s first reading (Sam.16:1b, 6-7,10-13a) always stops me short. Perhaps, like some, I need this strong, clear reminder that what we see is not necessarily what God sees: “Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature…. not as man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” The Gospel is about “seeing”— asking God to heal our blindness.
Our culture often dictates the opposite of our values. Does our need for acceptance sometimes translate to choices based merely on appearances?
The dancers that night so long ago received the applause of the people of God assembled to give recognition and enjoy the talent. I wondered how many were delighted by the sight of that small child, not in the spotlight, who gave so many so much delight.
“Unless you become as a little child….” Not childish. Not losing dignity or responsibility. But freedom to share our gifts. And the greatest of gifts is love–a love that does not judge on appearances…on cultural criteria…on what’s in it for me…or on what or who is out of favor.
During these last days of Lent, we are called to assess if and/or why we exclude. In turn, we will be given evidence of Christ’s great love for each and all of us. He paid the ultimate price. Let us ask for the great gift of “seeing with our hearts.”