Recently, I’ve become quite intrigued with the creative process – with the idea of creativity as an ongoing process that leads in directions that not even the writer or the artist can foresee. In my reading on creativity something that all creative people seem to recognize as foundational to this process is “seeing” or “perception.” That is, being creative does not just happen, but is the natural result of paying attention to life in as many of its facets as is possible to the human mind. Likewise, those who embark upon this creative process and commit to it fully quickly realize that our mind and our soul’s capacity for creative perception is much wider than we could have ever imagined or than we have typically been conditioned to realize in our education, our culture, and our personal habits. In fact, it is limitless, but it takes a lifetime to even begin to have a glimpse of what this might entail.
In this Sunday’s reading, Isaiah and Jesus both bear witness to the wider vision that faith calls forth. There is a similar structure to these two readings. They both begin with a call to greater awareness. Isaiah writes, “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God,” and in Mark’s gospel Jesus says to the deaf man with a speech impediment, “Be opened!” Jesus frequently begins his addresses to his disciples or the crowds with a similar “Fear not!” We all have fears that block us from seeing the presence of God in all of creation. Isaiah and Jesus remind us that God is always present and that God is there to help remove these fears.
The second aspect of the structure of these readings that strikes me is that after the call to awareness of the Divine Presence, then the miracles occur. In fact, throughout the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke frequently mention that there are times where it is the faith of the individual or of the crowds that makes possible Jesus’ healing ministry and miracles. Isaiah writes of a time when the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared, and the land will become fertile and prosperous. Jesus restores man’s hearing and speech.
Somehow, the moral life must be a creative response to the awareness of Christ’s presence in “all things” (Col 1:16) – in Word and Sacrament, and also in every detail of creation. While the Catholic moral tradition provides fundamental principles and ideals that serve as the goal for the moral life, to be authentic for each Christian and for the Church as a whole, it must be a creative response to the lived encounter with the resurrected Christ. This entails a greater degree of responsibility than most of us are prepared to take up, but if we are willing to follow that creative process as a response to the Holy Spirit, then the moral life takes on a creativity and vigor that leads to a profoundly peaceful happiness and provides continued inspiration and growth to all members of the body of Christ.