Reflection & Dialogue: Vision, its realization, patience

Vision is an abstraction. It is the reality, the world, the future, the individual just as an individual, or God himself, would wish, or plan, them to be. The place of human free will in the realization of this vision does not enter into the vision itself as such. Yet it is not the vision itself but the activity of the individual or public that will make the vision become a reality. And this human free will can complicate or impede the realization of the vision.

            Something of what has been said here is true of nearly all visions of a future reality. We have an example of it in today’s first reading from Second Isaiah, with prophecies of the future poetically presented on the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. In a sense we can observe it in Paul’s great vision of the future glory due, and in store for God’s children and even for creation itself, not an immediate glory but one for an end time. But the Roman believers to whom he wrote had to live in the real world, prepared even, if needs be, for persecution. The same is true, in a sense for thr vision of the Church of the Second Vatican Council, to take but a few examples – and not to speak at all of visions in the political sphere.

            There is a danger that the emphasis on visions, or aspects of them, yet to be realized can distract from the attention due to visions, or the greater part of a vision, already realized. And this holds for central visions of the Christian faith. Christianity itself it a vision, a vision of the mystery hidden for all ages and revealed in Jesus and in the Church. It is true, as the fourth Evangelist reminds us (John 1:18) that no one has ever seen God. But God’s only Son, who is nearest to his heart, has made him known. Jesus himself has said that anyone who has seen himself has seen the Father, that is, of course, anyone who sees Jesus in faith, and for what Jesus represents in God’s plan. The vision that was hidden, and yet to be fully realized, is already to be found in many way: in the Eight Beatitudes (“Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God”), in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Church’s inheritance. Paul often advises the readers of his letters to reflect on the richness that is their in their Christian inheritance. It would be a serious mistake to so stress shortcomings as to forget the riches of our Christian inheritance that are always with us.

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