Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
We have reached the fourth Sunday of Lent. That means we are half way through this wonderful season of prayer and fasting. This also means I have to wear the rose vestments today. It is “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday,” expressing the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord. Today’s readings both remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul and instructs us that we should be constantly on guard against spiritual blindness.
I am sure you have watched Sherlock Holmes movies or read the novels. Here is an interesting story about him and his friend Watson. Sherlock Holmes and his smart assistant Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, enjoy a heavy barbeque dinner with a bottle of whisky, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson replies, “I see millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” Watson ponders for a minute. “Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. “Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent.” Watson had missed the most obvious. He was clever enough to notice the complexities of the stars but he missed what was plain and simple. Today’s Gospel reading is about a whole lot of people who miss the point. In Jesus’ healing of a blind man, the Pharisees missed the most evident point that it was a real miracle by Divine intervention.
We see in today’s Gospel the dramatic story of Jesus Healing a blind man. It was not just a physical healing. His spiritual vision also mended as well. There is a progressive healing of his eye sight. And also there is a progress of his spiritual vison. Jesus gave to the blind beggar not only his bodily eyesight but also the light of Faith. This story also shows how the stubborn pride and prejudice of the Pharisees prevented them from seeing in the humble “Son of Man” the long-expected Messiah, and that made them incapable of recognizing the miracle. When the parents of the blind man convinced them that their son had been born blind, the Pharisees argued that the healer was a “sinner,” because the miracle had been performed on the Sabbath. But the cured man insisted that Jesus, his healer, must be from God. The blind man was asked: “Who healed you?” First, he answered, “A prophet healed me.” Then he answered, “The Son of Man healed me.” Finally, when he realized who Jesus was, he fell down on his knees and worshipped him. As a result, he was excommunicated. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight reminds us that we need God’s grace and revelation to move toward sharper spiritual vision.”
The Pharisees suffered from spiritual blindness. They were blind to the Holy Spirit. They had religion but lacked the spirit of Jesus’ love. They were also blind to the suffering and pain right before their eyes. They refused to see pain and injustice. There was no compassion in their hearts. In short, they were truly blind both to the Holy Spirit and to the human misery around them. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight is paralleled by the opponents’ descent into spiritual blindness.” (Fr. Harrington). Here is a contrast between those who know they are blind and those who claim to see. According to these blind Pharisees, Jesus, by healing the blind man doubly broke the Sabbath law, which forbade works of healing, and also kneading which was involved in making clay of spittle and dust. There is a lot for us to learn today from the Gospel. We may be able to see everything even things beyond sky like Watson. But may not see the necessary realities of our spiritual life. Or like the Pharisees we may know everything about our faith but not the God who is really present to us.
We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. Physiologically, the “blind-spot” is the part of our eye where vision is not experienced. It is the spot where the optic nerve enters the eye ball. A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver. In real life, we all have blind-spots: in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light. It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees: religious in worship, in frequenting the Sacraments, in prayer-life, in tithing, and in knowledge of the Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blind-spots. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.”
God Bless You,