To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam 16:1, 6-7,10-11,13; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
Some time ago, a young man came to see me to pour out his heart. He admitted he was a workaholic, because of which he was increasingly distancing himself from his wife and two children. His marriage was on the verge of breaking up, since he could not find time to spend with his family. He was caught in a vicious circle. He worked hard in order to provide for his family and the harder he worked and the more time he spent in the office, the further was he moving away from his family.
As he poured his heart out, I simply listened. His job had become his obsession. He wanted to give his wife and children things he had never had as a child and this effort to gain all things for his family became an enemy of the persons he loved most. He finally looked up at me and exclaimed, “I’ve lost sight of everything that matters most!”
The fox says something similar to the Prince in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The young man realized that he had lost his vision, the heart vision. He had not lost his external sight or vision, but the inner vision, the heart vision, which enables one to see clearly. He left my room with a promise to set his priorities right and thanked me for listening.
The loss of vision, which the young man experienced, is similar to the one experienced by both Samuel in the first reading of today and Pharisees in the Gospel text. In the case of Samuel, the reason for the loss vision is due to mistaken perception and judging by outward appearances alone. However, God makes it clear to him that he judges not by the external but looks at the heart. In the case of the Pharisees, the loss of vision was caused by their set opinions and understanding. They wanted to follow the law as thoroughly as they could, but did not realize that they had mixed it up with their interpretation and preconceived ideas and thus had shut the door to any kind of revelation that God was constantly making in Jesus through his Spirit.
They were so sure of everything – that God did not work on the Sabbath, that Moses was God’s only spokesperson, that anyone born blind and anyone who broke the Sabbath had to be a sinner, that God did not work through sinners, that God did not work on sinners and that furthermore no one could teach them anything. In this context, it must be noted that John makes abundantly clear in this text that physical illness is not the effect of sin. Rather sin here is connected with spiritual blindness and anyone who rejects the true light who is Jesus is guilty of sin and so is spiritually blind. This is an even more dangerous blindness than the physical one.
The man born physically blind comes to both physical sight and spiritual sight in his being able to see and recognize Jesus as the one who is sent. Through opposition and persecution the blind man moves from a confession of “the man Jesus,” to “prophet,” to “one from God” and finally to a confession of Jesus as the Son of Man and the Lord.
The second reading of today reminds the Ephesians and us, that like the man in the Gospel who represents all of us, we were also blind and stumbling in darkness, but now we live in the light of Christ and his Good News, and that light is seen in the way we behave. In the way we relate with other people in “complete goodness and right living and truth”. Our lives are to have a transparency where there is no darkness, no hidden behavior which we would be ashamed to reveal to others.
So we must think about our darkness, our blindness. Of course, acknowledging our own spiritual blindness can be embarrassing, painful, and threatening. To confess our own groping darkness and howling demons within, our frustrations, fears, and failures, unnerves us. Such a confession may be unsettling. We may be also anxious of what others might say, think or do.
Tradition, jealousy or legalism, blinded the religious leaders and prevented them from seeing the obvious. What blinds us to the truths that we should be seeing? Regardless of what it is, Jesus offers to remove blindness and show us the light.
We have been “enlightened” through baptism and are commissioned to confess and witness to our faith. Imitating the journey of the man who finally recognized Jesus, we should progress to an inner enlightenment, so that we can confess the crucified one as the Son of Man, who, when lifted up, will draw all things to himself.