Heal My Blindness

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The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (9:1-38)

This reading given to us on this the sixth Sunday of Pascha is powerful for many reasons. One of the amazing discussions that occurs near the beginning of the sermon is the question asked by the disciples to our Lord Jesus “Master, who sinned? This man or his parents.” Of course Jesus quickly answers them and we discussed the meaning of this many times but the bigger picture of this gospel passage is about the response of the blind man as well as the Jewish leaders to the fact that this man had been healed.

One of the most important aspects of reading the Bible that we learn from the Church Fathers is that how we read the Bible is of utmost importance. There are right and wrong ways of reading the text. One of the ways of reading the text which is considered incorrect is to read everything with a strictly literal meaning. Let’s give an example of this from the Psalms “Happy is the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!” Ps137:9 Now if we assume that the literal meaning is all there is to this passage then we might be forced to do terrible things. Thankfully we don’t have to resort to this today. In addition to the apparent meaning there is usually a spiritual, and deep allegorical meaning to texts as well. Scripture is a treasure chest that begs us to dig deeper.

The blindness of this man is likewise not merely about his blindness, just as the recovery of his sight is not merely about physical healing…it is about something more. The recovery of his sight, the end of his blindness is also a symbol of his discovery of Jesus Christ. It is the discovery that his physical sight was only restored so that his spiritual sight could be restored. Of course this makes complete and perfect sense if we take Our Lord at his word when he tells his disciples “I am the light of the world.”

It all makes perfect sense. If Jesus Christ is the light of the world it means that if we do not have Him we are in complete darkness. Any one of you who has ever been in a power outage without a flashlight knows that in truth you are almost completely blind…….almost. You may in fact see things like shadowy figures and so forth, but you will not be seeing your world as it really is. Only light reveals the true appearance.

This is the true context of what is happening in today’s gospel reading. It is about physical blindness and much more. It is about the blindness of the Pharisees who are in complete disbelief at this miracle. Even though everything points to the truth, such as the eyewitness accounts of the blind man’s own parents and finally his own testimony, the Pharisees do not, cannot believe because they have decided the outcome before knowing the facts. It is a like a form of cognitive dissonance. They had decided among themselves long before that Jesus of Nazareth was a troublemaker and no prophet. Of course this was also because of the light of Christ, since that light not only revealed God, but it also reveals the sinfulness of all men….and most of us don’t enjoy it when our sins are pointed out. It is rightly painful to us because our sinful desires have made themselves comfortable within us.

We often prejudge like these Pharisees when we misjudge the character of others, but it is truly dangerous when we misjudge the character of God. When we say that something in our lives is impossible we might be misjudging God and saying that He is powerless over our lives! We shut out the possibility of healing, of restoration, of light entering our lives just like the Pharisees did. Instead of rejoicing at the power and love of God, we lament at our misfortunes. We might become suspicious and look at the work of God through our own uninformed darkness……we don’t actually see God. We see luck or chance or fate or something else. That is darkness, like a spiritual power outage, we see some shadowy figures of our life and assume we understand life. Even more than this we sometimes see good and godly things and call them evil. The Pharisees did that. They didn’t even trust their own senses but rationalized an alternative, evil answer. See how easily we can become confused and disoriented by Satan?!

The way to a proper understanding of God is not a mental exercise. It is not blind faith either. The fathers of the Church tell us that we come to a proper understanding of God through an active practice of faith, through the very act of faithfulness itself. So our faith may start as a small seed but when we take that seed seriously and plant it deep in our hearts and pursue the cultivation of that seed diligently, daily, in small ways, through the life of the Church, then that small seed of faith will grow and flourish and bear beautiful life giving fruit. With care and by the grace of God, it will become an overwhelming garden that gives us more than we can even imagine. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”

St. John of Kronstadt once wrote,

“The Church, through the temple and Divine service, acts upon the entire man, educates him wholly; acts upon his sight, hearing, smelling, feeling, taste, imagination, mind, and will, by the splendor of the icons and of the whole temple, by the ringing of bells, by the singing of the choir, by the fragrance of the incense, the kissing of the Gospel, of the cross and the holy icons, by the prosphoras, the singing, and sweet sound of the readings of the Scriptures.”

We partake of the life of faith, of the things of God and through partaking we are confirmed and renewed in our understanding. A small bit of faith becomes a great deal of faith in the one who chases after God. A small bit of faith vanishes and disappears in the one who ignores or denies God.

Acknowledging God as the Light of the world and pursuing that light, through His body, which is the Church, is the way to begin seeing the world through fresh new eyes. Because if you are seeing the world without God, you are also seeing it without light and without light we all become blind. We walk in this world from place to place aimlessly. But God doesn’t desire that for His creation. He desires that we should know Him and love Him and that we should continue to grow in this dynamic of love forever. But in order for these things to happen we have to also address our own blindness. Each of us is blinded by sin.

Metropolitan Philaret of New York once wrote, “The Church, telling us today about this miracle of the Savior, at the same time chants in the person of each of us: “Blind with my spiritual eyes, I come to you, O Christ, like one born blind.” Not long ago we prayed to our Lord intensively: “Grant that I may see my own sins.” If we ask to see, to be able to see our sins it means we cannot see them as well as is needed. This is because our “spiritual eyes” are blind.” He continues saying “Our Lord Jesus Christ came to heal us of this brokenness, because no other force in the world can heal us of this frightful corruption by sin.”

May Our Lord pour out the full might of His love in order to grant each of us this healing so that we might see Him not merely with our eyes but truly with the eyes of the heart. AMEN.

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