FROM A READING FOR AUG. 7, 19TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
'All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them....They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one...' -- Hebrews 11:13,16


Practically nothing in Scripture was written by eyewitnesses - not even our Gospels. Only after years of reflecting on God's actions in their lives did our sacred authors eventually compose the writings that make up the Scriptures.

Though many of the people involved in their narratives seemed to understand the implications of those divine actions as they were actually taking place, scholars remind us that such insights most probably didn't become part of their faith lives until far down the road. Even today, we often catch ourselves saying, "I didn't notice it at the time, but...."

One need only Google Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons' famous "invisible gorilla" experiment to see how easy it is to miss things that happen right before our eyes. The two professors demonstrated that our eyes normally see only what our minds program them to see: They asked people to pass a basketball around while keeping count of specific things, and the subjects became so focused on their task that they did not notice a person in a gorilla suit walking past them.

Watch out, please
If we're not expecting it, we usually don't see it. On a practical level, experts tell us that's why motorcycles are so frequently involved in highway accidents: Drivers of cars are geared to see other cars, not motorcycles. Based on that insight, yard signs have recently appeared, urging us to "Watch Out for Motorcycles!"

On a Scriptural level, that also seems why we have Sunday's three liturgical readings. Our sacred authors are concerned that we not only discover what happened to them, but also become prepared to discover the same things and events happening in our own lives. If we're not prepared to have them take place, we'll rarely notice them taking place.

Our Wisdom (18:6-9) author is convinced that only those enslaved Israelites who were anticipating Yahweh to destroy their foes actually interpreted the Exodus correctly. Historically, according to the Exodus author, the majority of Jews in Egypt argued against Moses.

No blind faith
What turned out to be the greatest saving event in Jewish history started as a big aggravation. The Torah's author reminds us of the people's "griping." They'd have been more content as slaves than crossing the Red Sea as free people. What a chosen few saw, most ignored.

The author of Hebrews (11:1-2, 8-19) wants to make certain such blindness never happens to Jesus' followers. He hammers away at Abraham and Sarah's faith. Presuming they're the first Jews, they don't have Yahweh's track record to fall back on; only their faith helps them see Yahweh's hand in the daily events of their life. They didn't emigrate from Ur to Canaan, for instance, simply to acquire more food in a foreign land, but because Yahweh had a unique plan for them and their descendants.

Sacred authors are convinced that faith enables us to notice what others ignore. That seems to be why Jesus (Luke 12:32-48) wants us to be certain about where our "treasure" is located.

Those who "sell their belongings and give alms" will be the ones to notice the risen Jesus present in their lives. Those who care for others will experience God's kingdom in their midst.

The historical Jesus presumed His followers would see what He chose to see during His earthly ministry. That was the only way they would be His faithful and prudent stewards.

Perhaps it would be faith-effective to post yard signs reading, "Watch for God Working in Your Lives!"