Seeing and believing


The raising of Lazarus was the last straw for those who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.

When Christ healed the man born blind, attempts to pretend it had not happened failed, and the last recourse was to claim it was a sinful act, violating the Sabbath laws. At first, the refusal to rejoice in these great signs seems as remarkable as the signs themselves, but it is typical of a cramped view of the world, by which close-minded people deny reality. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, "many believed in Him," but others rushed to the Pharisees, who feared that the Romans would react violently. The miracle was evident, but the desire for social and political control took precedence. This miracle was the efficient cause for the start of the Passion.

Thus, we see the flaw in the adage that "seeing is believing." It is possible for human pride to refuse to believe what it sees. Of course, one must guard against illusions that trick human vision, but there is a willfulness in obtuse people that rejects palpable evidence. Having received the report about Lazarus, the Pharisees reacted like Sergeant Frank Drebin, the character in the "Naked Gun" film series: "Nothing to see here! Please disperse."

That kind of vaunting of ideology over truth would focus on the sins and failings of Christians to be Christians, rather than acknowledge the saints and miracles of Christ in history. Recently, after much investigation by medical experts, Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers, France confirmed the extraordinary healing of Serge François in 2002. This 56-year-old man with a paralyzed leg was instantly cured at Lourdes and walked 975 miles to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in thanksgiving. This received little publicity because it was outside the secular media’s ability to account for such a sign.

It is easier to distract people by calling attention to ecclesiastical gossip and controversies than to admit the spiritual combat that engages the world. Consider the recent massacre of 1,000 people by Muslims in the Ivory Coast town of Duékoué. Few press agencies mentioned that the victims were Catholics seeking sanctuary in the Salesian mission of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. William Blake wrote: "This life’s dim windows of the soul / Distorts the heavens from pole to pole / And leads you to believe a lie / When you see with, not through, the eye."

Humility is truth, and opens the eyes to what human pride would keep in darkness. Moral vision interprets the signs of the times, and man is accountable for how he understands. As He headed for the cross, Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say ‘We see,’ your guilt remains" (John 9:41). 




Father George William Rutler. "Seeing and believing." From the Pastor (April 10, 2011).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001.

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2011 Father George W. Rutler

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