By Canon Gerry Conroy

There is a line in the Gospel that is disconcerting: ‘They would not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead’. Why on earth would someone refuse to accept it if they should see someone rise from the dead! Is it that they think rising from the dead is so outrageous an idea that they couldn’t believe it even if it happened? What kind of a mind refuses to accept what is clearly present before it. But then perhaps it is not so much a refusal to accept facts, as a problem about how we interpret reality. We all interpret reality, sometimes we can interpret the same reality in vastly different ways. ‘One man’s poison is
another man’s meat’ as we say. There is something within us that can make us blind to what is not in our line of sight – to what we are not interested in, or have a previous prejudice about, and no matter what happens we will not be deflected from what we see; ‘Selective Blindness’ they call it. But there is another more troubling aspect to our nature that may lead us to reject what is true and that is we simply do not want to accept it because it doesn’t fit in with what we want, it doesn’t agree with how we view things. We refuse to accept it.
St Paul said, ‘Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called.’ Often the good fight of the faith is about struggling with ourselves, our prejudices about life, our dislikes of things or people; we struggle to be charitable and merciful to some people; to others we hardly need to make an effort. Our jealousies, our pride, can so blind us to the truth that we close ourselves off to others and enclose ourselves in a world circumscribed by our jealousies and hates and our pride. What would happen if on approaching the gates of heaven we saw waiting for us inside, someone we couldn’t stand, or someone who had hurt us and we had never forgiven, someone we had hurt and of whom we had never asked forgiveness? Would we turn away and say, I’m not going in there, as long as they are in there, or I wouldn’t know what to say to them. That’s the same blindness, the same stubbornness that refuses to believe in the resurrection, or even worse believes in the resurrection, but shuts ourselves off from it. We won’t believe, we won’t act, because it doesn’t suit us, we prefer our hurts, we prefer to remain in the
huff, because that’s who we are, that’s our pain, our pride, our jealousy.
We don’t want to let go of these comforts, unwilling to even try and leave our comfort zone,  and so we turn a blind eye to the truth, we refuse to see the true cost of the comforts of our life. We are not willing to take responsibility for our world or our lives; as long as we have what we want. Perhaps we throw scraps to the less fortunate only so that we can tell ourselves we are not blind like the rich man in the Gospel. It is uncomfortable to allow ourselves to be constantly challenged in our life, but we must not be passive in our life and let life happen to us; we must take control and be responsible for our life and for our world. As Christians, we must allow the word of God to challenge us, we must recognise that we all need to be constantly challenged. It is uncomfortable, but it also means that we are still struggling for a perfection, we are struggling for the best that is in our humanity. We have not succumbed to life.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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