A blind man in New York City asked a young lady, "What's it look like today?" The young lady responded, "Just another ordinary day." The blind man looked down and said, "Boy, I wish I could see that."
Two thousand years ago, to have eyes and not see; ears and not hear was considered a curse from God. Today, it is an opportunity to go beyond our sight and ears and to touch the face of God with faith. Faith allows us to go beyond our sight and hearing. It helps us to touch Heaven which is neither a physical habitat nor a type of spiritual opium. It is a person: Jesus Christ.
I was once in darkness. Back in 1993 I was living with another twenty seminarians on the side of a mountain in Novara, Italy. It was a cold, dreary, industrial town, and after being there for six months I was starting to feel homesick. We were allowed to call or receive a phone call from our family once a year, for our birthday. It wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t enough for many of my companions. Some began to drop out. Others were struggling. I was one of them. For the first time in my life I was experiencing loneliness. I prayed and prayed. I missed my family, my cousins, and my home. I was twenty-seven years old. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall I want” (Ps 23:1). How these words ring true for all eternity. How sweet the sound of them. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. There is nothing missing. The Lord provides all.
One day I will look for the exact date (I have it written down in one of my novitiate journals) of this amazing encounter I had with the Lord’s amazing goodness. The Lord knows me. He knows everything about me. And yet, he saves me, over and over again he saves me from my anguish and struggles, tears and trials.
Every Thursday is an all day hike day. We start off right after Mass and head for the mountains. Our superior divides us into groups of four or five. He chooses our companions for the day. We pray in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary for safe travel. Our backpacks are filled with raw food, frying pan, and two matches to start a fire. Charles Dickens could not have described it any better, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Sometimes it would rain all day and be absolutely miserable. In this case, it was a unanimous cry: “Thy Will Be Done!” Other times it was absolutely breathtaking and enjoyable, and in this case it was still a unanimous cry: “Thy Will Be Done!” That was the point of the entire adventure: May God’s Will be always done.
My little group was heading up the mountain. It was a nice day. As we were walking up, an elderly gentleman was walking down. We looked at him and said, “Buon giorno!” He stopped, looked at us and said in Italian, “You’re not Italian are you.” I answered back. No, I’m from the United States, but my family is Italian. He said, “Really, where?” I said, “My family is from southern Italy.” “I’m from southern Italy too”, the gentleman replied. Where in Southern Italy? I told him, “A little province called Benevento.” He looked at me, by now a little surprised, and said, “I’m from Benevento.” I looked at him a little shocked and said, “Well, my family is from a little town called Montesarchio.” He shook his head and said, “I’m from Montesarchio.”
At this moment I truly thought this gentleman was nuts! He asked me what my name was, “I told him, Nazzaro. HE SAID TO ME, “I’m Nazzaro too!” He took out his wallet and showed me his identity card. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was on a Thursday morning, heading up some remote mountain. I happened to greet a perfect stranger at the perfect time and right place, who happened to be from the same tiny town as my family and had the same last name. Here, in front of me, was a relative of mine. I was not alone!
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5:14).
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. The Lord took junk, dirt, and spit upon it, turning it into healing ointment. Let us humbly ask the Lord of Life to turn the dust of our life into something beautiful. He can do it! He can turn our loneliness, our sins, our worthlessness into something glorious, holy, saintly! Let us humbly ask the Lord for faith, so that we can see beyond our sight and see the way the Lord sees, from the inside out” (cf. 1 Sam 16:7).