Every Sunday we listen to the scriptures proclaimed probably in one dimension, the aural dimension, relying more on our ears than our imagination. For those who are avid readers, reading mystery or adventure novels delights our imaginations with descriptive words, allowing our minds to fill in what is not written in the text. The reader must add the sights and sounds that are not always included in the written text, but only come with one’s imagination and experience. Books are being replaced with the magic of computer generated graphics, to accomplish what seemingly can’t be done any other way. Several movies, like Gravity and Avatar could only be made now with newly developed technological innovations. But we don’t need technological innovations to get at the heart of our story of faith contained in the scriptures.
Traveling to the Holy Land affords thousands of pilgrims every year the opportunity to see, touch and in some ways experience what the disciples experienced with Jesus over two millennia ago. The scriptures tell us that Jesus watched the disciples fish on the Sea of Galilee. Now having seen, touched and sailed on the Sea of Galilee, I have a new mental picture of the Sea surrounded by green fertile fields and hills that embrace this body of water six hundred feet below sea level. It is a capricious sea that can be calm, smooth and seemingly harmless, but in the summer can become turbulent with sudden unexpected winds, roiling the surface into waves and foam. However, on a recent morning, watching the sun rise over the Sea, as Jesus probably did so many times when he spent the night in prayer; it was enchanting, seeing the sun slowly rise over the eastern hills, sunlight sparkled on the sea surface while sea birds flew, soared, hovered, squawked and dove into the water to catch a fish for a meal. Hearing the water gently lap on the shore and the sound of birds opened my mind to the reality of the Gospel passages becoming more real. The scriptural authors presume that our minds will provide those story elements that are not necessarily essential but round out and fill out the scenes of the Gospel text.
When the psalmist proclaims the words, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”; it’s not just the rising and the setting of the sun there, but everywhere that God is present in that universal experience. Experiencing the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee, gave me whole a new appreciation of listening to the text, listen with my imagination not just my ears. I hope you can have that same experience when you can imagine yourself in that scene with the disciples and Jesus today, making the past present.
Blessings, Father Larry