Sermon: 7th Sunday after Pentecost ~ And their eyes were opened

twoblindmenScripture is not always easy to follow; the meaning is not always clear at first glance and will require further study and meditation for us to truly grasp what is being said.  As an Orthodox Christian I study Scripture backwards, through the lens of the Church and what the Church has had to say about a particular pericope.  It is not my interpretation rather it is the 2,000 plus year history of biblical scholarship that we are seeking.

In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew there is a similar situation.  On the surface we look at this story as one of healing and reconciliation.  Two blind men come up to Jesus and asked Jesus to have mercy on them.  In other words they were asking to be healed of their handicap.  We do not know anything about these men other than they are blind.  They follow Jesus into a house and Jesus asks them if they believe that He can do what they are asking of Him.  They answered that they did believe, why would they say no at this point, and He touches their eyes and tells them that according to their faith they have been healed.  Scripture then tells us that their eyes were opened.

In the next scene of the story a “dumb demoniac” was brought to Him.  Again, we know nothing about this man except that he was possessed by some sort of evil spirit that needed to be cast out.  Jesus cast the demon out and all those around Him marveled at what He had done.  “Never had anything like this been done in Israel” the crowd said.  But the Pharisees were not far off and not wanting to miss a beat they claim that Jesus cast out this demon by demons.  In other words they tried to down play what had just happened.  They doubted and their eyes were closed!  The end of this particular story has Jesus traveling around the area preaching, teaching, and healing.

Faith is a very useful thing for us to have and it is quiet easy to lose it if we are not careful.  The blind men in the story are being used in a symbolic way for all of those who came to Jesus with the eyes of their faith closed and needed them to be opened, but we have to want our eyes opened in order for us to see.  We have to want to know the truth in order for us to see it and that is the point of the Gospel today.

I was involved in a recent discussion about higher education and the point behind it all.  Is the object of higher education simply to impart knowledge on people or is the idea to get people to think critically about issues?  Some believe that college students should just be taught facts, from a certain perspective mind you, and nothing else.  They should be able to recite back, chapter and verse, facts and figures and dates, while others believe that knowing certain things is important but know how to analyze situations and circumstances is much better.  Know how to think critically about an issue, and be able to see it from all sides, it truly what an educated person is able to do.  The same is true with Scripture.

I often and involved in online discussions about what our church thinks and teaches about certain issues and more often than not, if I am dealing with the non-Orthodox, they will come back with a quote from scripture.  Being able to quote Scripture is fine, in fact Scripture tells us that Devil can quote Scripture, but do we really know what it means?  Do we know the context that the particular verse comes from; do we understand the history of the people and of the time that it was written in and too?  If we do not, then we have no business quoting Scripture!  Blind quotes are just that, blind!

How many of us are more influenced by what the talking heads on television think about an issue rather than what the Church thinks about an issue.  How many of us form an opinion based upon the latest poll rather than what our Church has to say, and has had to say in some cases, for more than 2,000 years.  The first place we should turn for answers to life’s questions not CNN or Fox News but to the Church!

But sometimes we want to be blind and not want to see because being able to see requires us to change and change is frightening.  Nothing more is said of the blind men after they were healed except that they went out and told everyone what had happened, after Jesus had told them not too by the way.  Their life was changed when their eyes were opened and they could see things differently they had before both in a literal and a figurative way.  This is what faith calls us too, faith calls us to see things different, not through eyes that are close, blinded by what is popular, but through eyes of faith that see things as they were intended to be seen.  We can no longer go through life grasping for answers because the answers are right in front of us.

Years ago it was all the rage to wear the bracelet that said WWJD, What Would Jesus Do.  This is a fine question to ask in all situation but, and I hate to clue you in on this, none of us are Jesus, so the question should be, What Does Jesus Want Us to Do?  In order to answer that question we have to know what it is that He wants us to do and how we are to do it and will not find that answer on CNN or Fox News, we find that answer in Scripture.

So who do we want to be, the blind men who approached Jesus in extreme faith and humility and asked that their eyes, physical and spiritual, be opened, or do we want to be like the Pharisees who simply made fun of what was happening and were more concerned about the rules then they were about people?  This is the question we are being asked today.

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