Sunday, April 3, 2011

You See?

"Blind" (Image by Ondřej Lipár) (Colorized)

There are many kinds of blindness which have nothing to do with the quality or function of our optic nerves and eye lenses.  Most of us have probably never thought of ourselves as blind.  Our optic nerves and lenses work fine! But, many of us are blind!
All kinds of attitudes about ourselves or others can distort our perspective on reality and our understanding  -- almost as if we are blind! 

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his 
parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,  “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and 
beg?” Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the 
sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he 
sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this 
man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already 
and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to 
Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he 
opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners,  but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would 
not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to 
teach us?” Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one 
speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see 
might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.


There were many blind people in this incident of the Lord Jesus' healing of the man born blind, but only one was cured: and he was the one born without eyesight.  The others had 20/20 eyesight, and were able to physically see perfectly well.  Yet, it's the blind man who has better vision than they do -- because, his blindness only came from eye disease.  Their blindness came from something more deadly: Their sins!  Their blindness affected their minds and souls, not their optic nerves!
In this incident, Saint John reports the different sins and attitudes which caused the blindness of the various people involved.  This incident also shows us the different types of blindness we can have.
For instance, the disciples showed their spiritual blindness.  Instead of asking Our Lord Jesus how could they help the blind man, they asked Our Lord whose fault it was that the man was born blind.  

  • You and I share the disciples' blindness every time we overlook people in need and concern ourselves only with rhetoric and abstract blather about evil in the world: "Why do people suffer?  Why does God let this happen?  Why doesn't God do something about it?"   
  • Why? Because, God put us here to do something about it!  
  • Do you and I deliberately permit our own selfishness or laziness to blind us, so that we can avoid seeing and helping people in need?

Or do we have one of the various forms of spiritual blindness pointed out in the Gospel passage above?  Perhaps the blindness of the parents of the man born blind?   
They were blinded by fear.  They would not lend support to their son cured from blindness. They would not verify his statement that the Lord Jesus had cured him. They knew it was true!  But they were afraid that if they acknowledged Jesus, they’d be expelled from the synagogue.

  • Do you and I permit our fears to close our eyes to, and turn our backs on, unjust, inhuman, immoral situations we know about?

If this isn't our form of spiritual blindness, perhaps it's another type pointed out in the  Gospel passage above: The blindness of the pharisees!  
They permitted their arrogant pride, envy and jealousy to create thick cataracts to obscure their vision, and help them to achieve their goal: To label the Lord Jesus as an impostor and discredit Him.  And so, they deliberately rejected the truth -- chose to be blind to the truth -- to convince themselves that the Lord Jesus could not have worked a miracle of curing a man who was blind since birth. They refused to see the Presence of God in their midst.   

  • Does your pride keep you from admitting when you are wrong?  
  • Do pride and jealousy drive you to ridicule others, lash out at others, hold grudges, and make you blind to your own evil?

How divinely ironic –- that the man born without eyesight was the one who possessed the  clearest spiritual vision about Whom Jesus truly was.  This blind man was not afraid to declare his faith in Our Lord Jesus.


Most of us have probably never think of ourselves as blind. But, we are!

  • Can we respect other people's points of view, even though we don't agree with them?
  • Are we blind to our own faults and sins?  
  • In order not to face our faults, do we always try to blame others?
  • Are we blind to our own goodness and worth?  
  • Do we destroy our faith in ourselves, who are made in the Image of God?  
  • Do we habitually deny the beauty and grace that God has given us, telling ourselves that we are failures, no good, worthless, inferior?
  • Are we constantly negative and cynical, or constantly angry, or constantly depressed?  
  • Is our faith too weak from not praying and not doing good deeds, that we have blinded ourselves from seeing hope coming from our faith in God and from seeing good coming after our present sorrows or sufferings have ended?  

Today’s Gospel Reading is a warning: There are many kinds of blindness which have nothing to do with our optic nerves and eye anatomy.  


During the remaining time this Lent, the Church hopes that this Gospel passage will inspire us to look within ourselves and pray for light.  

  • We must ask Our Lord Jesus to force us to see, however unpleasant or embarassing it may be.
  • And, then, we must admit the truth, and speak the truth, and publicly live by our Faith in Christ and His Holy Catholic Church --  even if spiritually blind people oppose us or ridicule us.  

Because, you see, if we live by the vision of our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, then perhaps many of those spiritually blind people will see.  


You see?

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