The Gospel of John 9:1-41 contains the story of a blind man, Jesus and the Pharisees. The chapter opens with the following sentence:
“As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the work of God might be made visible through him.’”
After reading the story of the blind man to the end, you will notice that the Pharisees did not share the same mission with Christ. They did not seek to give sight to the blind nor light to people in darkness; rather, what they did was to insult and humiliate blind people, sinners and those who have one form of misfortune or the other.
Blindness is a dangerous disease, but even more dangerous is the refusal to accept or acknowledge our blindness and limitations. A famous philosophical quotation states:
“He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool — shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple — teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep — wake him. He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise — follow him.”
This is to say that we ought to acknowledge what we are, as well accept what we are not and have not. Jesus truthfully declares:
“I came into the world so that those who do not see might see and those who see might become blind.”
~ John 9:39
He came into the world so that those who know not and know they know not might learn, and those who know not and know not that they know not, and those who are blinded by their myopic opinions might remain blind.
SEEKING FOR THE GIFT OF VISION AND INSIGHT: To seek for the gift of vision and insight is to aspire to see things and people as God sees them. When the prophet Samuel was using human standards to choose the King of Israel, the Lord faulted him on that and said to him:
Man looks at outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.
~ 1 Samuel 16:7
An English saying warns us not to judge a book by its cover. When Paul was converted, he began to see as God sees, only after he passed through the darkness of blindness and the scales fell off his eyes (Acts 9:18). He began to see Christians no longer with the eyes of hatred, but as God sees them, with the eyes of love and compassion. To see as God sees is to see the beauty of the image of God in each human person — family member, friend and stranger alike.
Blindness is not only a physical defect — there are also different kinds of blindness:
EMOTIONAL BLINDNESS: Emotional blindness is turning a blind eye to the needs of other people. St Mary Mackillop (1842-1909) says, “Never see a need without doing something about it.” There are times when we come across people who are in emotional pains and we turn a blind eye on their plight, because supporting them would demand our time and efforts. There are some imperfections in us, which also make us emotionally blind in expressing an authentic love in our relationship with others – hatred, prejudice, resentment and pride.
PARTIAL BLINDNESS: This is another disease to avoid. It is the act of looking at life from a single dimension, from one perspective. For example, sometimes we look at everything only from the material angle, and fail to see the spiritual dimension of people and things around us. If we are putting on pink glasses, everything around us becomes pink, and we fail to understand the true colours of people and our surroundings.
Jesus, the Light of the world, offers the gift of sight to all who believe in Him, such as the blind man in the Gospel. In the scriptures, blindness is also a metaphor for sin and darkness. Therefore let us pray that the Lord frees us from all forms of spiritual darkness that impede our spiritual progress.
Painting: Jesus Heals the Blind Man, Wikimedia Commons / PD-US