There are none so blind…
I hate having to wear glasses! Every year my eyesight seems to be deteriorating a little more! I am painfully reminded of my visual limitations when I go to the supermarket without glasses and I can’t see prices or the ingredients or directions on labels.
I look back fondly on a time when I could see everything clearly. Perhaps because of vanity or just the unrelenting process of growing old, but as my sight slowly deteriorates, I wonder if I really appreciate what I am missing out on?
This week’s Gospel is the story of the man born blind. For the second weekend in a row we get a rather long Gospel and yet, for such a long story, the amazing thing is that Jesus only appears at the beginning and at the end. In fact, at the end of the story, Jesus hears that the blind man had been driven away and he goes looking for him.
We sometimes miss the significance of Jesus hearing about what had happened to the man and deliberately setting out to find him.
You see, it is not a question of whether we, sighted or blind, find Jesus. Rather it is an image of Jesus coming to look for us and finding us where we are.
As for the story itself, there is a rich vein of irony running through it. We can see how God turns the world’s expectations on it’s head. The reality of things is just the opposite of what it seems to be. Those who are so sure they can see are, in truth, blind. He who starts out blind takes a risk at Jesus’ invitation and ends up seeing. The once blind man passes from blindness to sight to insight.
He stands in contrast to the neighbours, who remain in ignorance; his parents, who refuse to take a risk; and the authorities and Pharisees, who refuse to believe what their eyes see.
It seems it is true that there is no one as blind as the person who refuses to see.
There’s a line from the Talmud, which is a commentary on the Scriptures used by the rabbis, which reads, “We do not see things as they are – we see them as we are.”
For me personally the point of the story is that one day, a man who was blind from birth was touched by the Light and he, himself, became a light and he touched others with his light and they, in turn, became light to others.
Could it be true that this story could resemble our life story, a tale of our daily struggle to overcome our darkness with light? With our determination and God’s grace anything is possible. Sure there is a risk involved but we all long to be able to say “while I might not know all the answers one thing I do know is that once I was blind but now I see”.
Wishing you vision and insight for the week ahead.
Fr Peter Brannelly