Homily on Spiritual Blindness


Homily on Spiritual Blindness

By Deacon Tom Lambert

Two weeks ago I was having lunch with a retired school teacher. He told me a story about a blind girl in his high school. After gym class one day, the girl was in the locker room getting ready for the next class. All of a sudden all the lights went out in the locker room and all the girls in the locker room started screaming. The blind girl asked the girl standing next to her “what happened?” ………….the friend told her that all the lights went out and they couldn’t see … ….the blind girl calmly turned to her friend and said don’t worry, take my hand, I’ll lead you out.
 
The blind girl’s classmates learned a valuable lesson that day – she may be blind but she isn’t “disabled,” she just sees in other ways.
 
In the gospel this morning, the story of the blind man teaches us a valuable lesson about faith. He was blind and he was poor but he saw much more than anyone else - he received something more valuable than any wealth could give him.
 
In those days, the lack of knowledge about what society terms “disabilities,” much like today’s lack of knowledge about mental and physical disabilities, reinforced prejudices and assumptions about the blind man that weren’t true. These stereotypes contributed to his poverty of food and poverty of faith. …. “Who sinned?” The disciples asked – the blind man or his parents. The belief was that sins of the family or of the individual was the cause of the blindness. In those days he would not even have been allowed in the temple to worship because of his disability -- because he was seen as unclean.
 
The blind man may have been limited by his loss of eyesight but he was disabled by ignorance and prejudice.
 
Yet as Jesus unfolds the story, the man who was presumed to have a lack of faith, it turns out, had a great thirst for faith. The man who society judged as weak had more courage than most of Jesus followers. Jesus curing the person who is blind is not about a miracle cure of physical sight ---- it is about the miracle of insight.  
 
The physical cure symbolizes the opening of his mind and heart. The light that comes to his eyes is really the light that fills his heart with faith and hope. It is the light of Christ.
 
The man’s coming to the light is a witness to us about how we should approach our faith. His journey is one of courage and commitment.
 
As the gospel story unfolds we see how the blind man’s conversion and transformation takes place. At first when challenged by neighbors as to who Jesus is - he says he was touched by “the man called Jesus,” then as the story proceeds he is challenged by the Pharisees, those in authority, and to them he identifies Jesus as “a prophet”, then later he says to the Pharisees that Jesus is a “man from god,” then -----directly to Jesus ------he professes his faith and declares Jesus the “son of man.” He acknowledges Jesus as the messiah and finally he calls Jesus his lord.
 
What courage and commitment he must have had to withstand the prejudice and pressure of the people around him, at first they wouldn’t even believe he was the one that was cured! Each time they questioned him, he was forced to keep coming back and examining his own belief about who Jesus is ---- just what does he believe!! Each time he is deepening his faith. It is difficult for him and he doesn’t have all the answers --- yet he is committed to tell his story of faith. 
 
This transformation that the blind man goes through calls to mind for us the process we go through in our faith journey. Whether we are catechumens and candidates who are with us today (and have been preparing since last fall to enter the church on Holy Saturday) or we are faithful people coming to mass Sunday after Sunday, we are involved in a process that continually calls us to look deeper and deeper into who jesus is for us. We are challenged each day to look closely at our relationship with god. Who do we say Jesus is -- what does that mean in our daily living. What blinds us to living our faith to the fullest?
 
St Paul tells us we are called to live as children of the light for light produces every kind of goodness. At baptism we receive the light of Christ symbolized by the paschal candle….we bring the light of Christ to where ever there is darkness. When we do, we transform our families, our communities and our workplaces---- all the while transforming ourselves. 
 
In many ways the world we live in challenges our belief in Jesus. It is often a place that doesn’t want to hear the truth and the message of Jesus Christ. Our culture places an emphasis on power, wealth and ego. [The 3 temptations Jesus faced in the desert.] In the first reading, the Israelites are picking a leader and God says to Samuel about choosing someone to follow: “do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees - does God see, because man sees the “appearance” but the lord looks into the heart.”
 
What is in our heart? Do we see with the eyes of God? Are we blinded by prejudices and stereotypes? When we see a homeless person on the street -- do we see Jesus? When we see a person who is a different color than us or from a different country - do we see the face of Christ? When we see people who can’t get good health care or lose everything because they can’t pay their medical bills, do we see a need for justice? Are we willing to sacrifice so the poor, the immigrant, the victims of violence may have dignity and hope? When we see people with mental or physical disabilities do we see the dignity they have and the wisdom they can offer. 
 
Do we see how the man in the gospel can be blind and poor yet with faith be insightful and happy? Wisdom the lord told Samuel does not come from lofty stature or appearance; it comes from what’s in our heart.
There is a saying that “We become what we consistently do!”
The gospel this morning challenges us with a choice --- to be a witness like the blind man who lived his faith with courage and commitment or to be like his parents who, intimidated by the culture, avoided the hard questions about Jesus. At times WE may be blind and even fearful, but if we are willing, Jesus will take us by our hand and lead us out of darkness into the light.