This past week we were present with the Gospel story of the man who was born blind (John 9:1-38). In this story, we see Jesus healing them man by placing the clay on his eyes and directing him to go and wash and when I man did as directed he was healed. We also come face to face with the Pharisees who objected to the healing because it did not follow the proper usage of the law. They could see the miracle before them, but they were blinded by the fact that it was done in accordance with the law.
A tourist took one look at the Grand Canyon and said to the security guard standing nearby, “Where is the golf course?” When the guard told him that there wasn’t any, he said, “What do you do around here all day?” In the presence of one of the most sublime and awe-inspiring spectacles of the world, this man saw nothing. He had eyes, but his capacity to see beauty and grandeur had not been developed. Having eyes, he saw not.
The problem for most of us is not our physical sight but our spiritual sight.
Much of our blindness is willful. We shut things out that we do not want to acknowledge. It is as if we don’t see it then it does not exist. Things are happening all around us, and we are blissfully unaware of it all. How many times have we been driving somewhere and when we arrive we do not remember the journey? We get so caught up in our stuff that we miss what is around us.
All around us are people living in distress, in despair, in loneliness, in sorrow, in sickness. Do we see them? We have learned to walk down the street and never see any of them. When we do walk down the street, do we look at other people or do we keep our eyes focused somewhere else so as not to catch their attention?
Even more than the blind man in today’s Gospel we need to ask Jesus to restore our sight that we may see the suffering and afflictions of our fellow humans. We refuse to see the image of God that abides in every human being. Sometimes we are blind to the things that close to us; we can only see what lies ahead in the distance.
We are farsighted. We can easily see the sins of others but not our own. We condemn those whose lifestyle we do not agree with but all the while we are living a life that the church does not agree with, it is much easier to point out others sins than deal with our own. How desperately we need to pray Lord, let me receive my sight that I may see and remove the log that is my eye before I concern myself with the speck in someone else eye!
We miss the many miracles that take place all around us. The new growth of spring, the cry of a baby, the laughter of a child, the rain, the wind and we fail to see that Christ is present with us, right here in this very place, in the form of bread and wine, but if we are spiritually blind we do not see it and miss out on a tremendous opportunity.
Perhaps we miss seeing God in the world because we do not have enough of God in our lives. We have failed to cultivate this vision; we have trained our eyes to see things, but we neglected the most significant capacity that belonged to a man, the ability to see God in prayer and worship!
If we are to see again, then a miracle must take place in our lives. Jesus must touch our eyes just as he touched those of the blind man in today’s Gospel. Then slowly we will begin to see, and then we will come to realize that without Jesus we cannot truly see and that without him we will continue to be blind.
Jesus is the opener of the eyes of the soul and with him there will always be darkness. I am the light of the world, Jesus tells us, He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
There is a story of a lonely man who felt so rejected by the cold city in which he lived that he decided to kill himself by throwing himself into the river. As he left his room, he told himself, “If I meet someone on the street whose eyes catch mine, which somehow takes notice of me as a human being, I’ll turn back. Only then.” So he began his walk to the river.
Here the story ends. But is poses this question: suppose he had met you on the street, would he have turned back?
Fr. Peter-Michael Preble is the pastor of St. Michael Orthodox Church in Southbridge Massachusetts and blogs at www.frpeterpreble.com. Follow Fr. Peter on Twitter @frpeterpreble