What Blinds Us?

We are approaching the end of the Easter season in the Orthodox Church and the last few weeks the Scripture lessons have been focused on the healing power of Christ and His Church.  This week the Scripture identifies a man that has been blind from birth and as he approaches Jesus’ disciples ask Him if the man is blind because of his sin or the son of his parents.  You see it was a common belief that sin, your own or that of your parents caused your health problems.  Suffering can be caused by the choices that we make, but the state of our health is not generally caused by sin.

As is customary in these stories in Scripture, Jesus heals the man of His malady.  Sometimes Jesus does this simply with words, “you are healed,” “take up your mat and go,” but in this case he actually performs an action to heal the man.  Jesus spits on the ground and makes a paste from the dust and his spittle and places it on the man’s eyes, and tells him to go and wash in the pool, then man does this and his receives his sight.  This is an extraordinary action, by using the elements of the earth to restore this man’s sight; Jesus is revealing that He is the creator of all and reminding those present that all of humanity was created from the elements of the earth.

I have always been amazed that the people who witnessed events such as this were not convinced on the spot, that Jesus was the Messiah the one who has come to save the world.  I mean what more proof do you need?  The blind see, the lame walk, and the dead have been raised.  We require less proof that a news story is true before we believe and tell others about it.  But you see those present were blind in their heart and in their mind.

Just as happened at other times Jesus healed people, those in power were blind to the power of God for the perceived breaking of the law.  They were unable to see what had happened because they were more concerned about following the rules then they were with helping people.  The rule book told them that they could not do certain things on certain days and this man, Jesus, dared to violate the rules and therefore was a fraud.  They were so blind with hate and prejudice that they could not see the working of God right before their own eyes.

We are all blind from time to time.  Sometimes we are blind on purpose and other times we are blind not of our own fault.  We wish to help those in other places who are suffering but we ignore the suffering of those living right next door to us.  We are blind to the suffering we cause with our words or actions or our inaction, and we are blind to our own pain that has been left to fester and we are so paralyzed by the rules that we do not know how to seek the help we need.

Every action the Jesus took, every word that He spoke was designed as a lesson, not only for those there with Him but for us as well.  Sure this man had a physical ailment that needed healing but this man was a prototype of all of humanity and we all need to be healed of our blindness.  Some of us are blinded by our manifold sins and we just do not know how to climb out of the trash heap we have placed ourselves in.  Some of us might be blinded by bitterness of a past relationship and that keeps us from getting close to others.  And some of us a blinded and paralyzed by the rules and therefore we cannot see what needs to be done.  Jesus not only opened the eyes of the man in the story but He opened his heart as well.

Now, lest anyone say I don’t think the rules are important, that is not the case.  Rules are necessary but sometimes we hide behind them as an excuse to not do anything or we are so concerned about “doing it the right way,” that we never get around to actually doing it!  Jesus saw a need, and He got to work.  He did not ask questions, He did not seek permission, He knelt down and got His hands dirty and solved the problem.  He did not look to assign blame.  He did not seek to find the appropriate rule to justify His doing or not doing what needed to be done, He just did it and that is what we need to do.

 This essay originally appeared in the Tantasqua Town Common, and The Quaboag Currant

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