Have you ever responded to someone’s imparting of information, “I didn’t realize that?” or “I never thought of that?” These are two examples Fr.G gave to the children in yesterday’s talk as ways our minds don’t ‘see’ in order to illustrate spiritual blindness. The kid’s understood what it meant to not see with their eyes when they covered them with their hands. But spiritual blindness is an abstract concept difficult to illustrate even to adults. I thought his example was good. And as usual, he spoke more to me than he did to the kids!
As I quietly read the Gospel passage (St. John 9:1-38) along with Fr.G and listened to him speak to the children, several other things came to my mind. These are further examples of my own spiritual blindness.
The Pharisees responded to the no-longer-blind man, “‘[Jesus] is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’” (v16).
This sounds so familiar to me in our current age. So often a measurement of ones’ faith, or better put ‘being a good Christian,’ is attendance at programs or volunteering in extracurricular church activities. If you don’t, then you are seen as a ‘bad’ Christian. I dare say my mother was a far better Christian that I ever will be even though she rarely set foot in a church for many years prior to her death. She prayed constantly and offered all of her pain and suffering to Jesus Christ who suffered for her (as she put it).
The Jews didn’t believe the no-longer-blind man had been blind from birth, so sought out his parents for confirmation. They passed the buck, due to their fear of the Jews, saying, “He is of age, ask him.”
I chuckled at this so familiar situation. I was reminded of Jesus telling his disciples, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Matthew 10:21-22). The no-longer-blind man’s parents rose up against their son by standing against him not next to him when faced with the Jews’ questions.
The other thought that quickly came to mind was the issue of maladies and illnesses. The Pharisees asked Jesus who the sinner was that caused the blindness from birth, the parents or the child. Is this a thought, no matter how fleeting, when we hear of a someone with a malady or is mentally challenged?
Is the malady a blessing? A curse? Because of our, or someones sin? This is a common teaching in some churches. A person is afflicted with cancer because of a past sin they committed yet did not repent of or ask forgiveness for. Or the reverse: God blessed me. Look at the house I live in, the salary I make, etc, etc. I tithe, therefore God has given more.
The blindness was in fact a benediction. Why? Because God was made manifest through the disease. God showed His power to all, then and now. Had this man not been born blind, this specific opportunity would not have happened.
The formerly blind man had lived a difficult life. Imagine being judged a sinner, or knowing your parents were judged sinners because of your illness. He was unemployable. He lived off the charity of others. He was unable to support his parents as he got older. He was viewed as a outcast. But a little spit and dirt, reminiscent of the creation of man from dust, applied by the loving hand of God Himself, removed the blindness – even from a sinner…especially from a sinner.
While I am grateful to God for the peace in which I have lived in this past year, and believe me – I am REALLY GRATEFUL, I have learned also to be grateful for the difficult and dark days in my life – and there have been many. Though I may have abandoned God, He never abandoned me. He healed me despite myself, in spite of myself and because of myself.
All glory to Him.