Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Was Blind But Now I See

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A (With Scrutinies)

Most of you may have heard of the amazing and inspiring story of Helen Keller. Helen Keller was an author, political activist and a lecturer. Her achievements and credentials would have sufficiently best any other person who was considered a peer, not discounting the fact that she was also a woman who lived during the time of the early years of women suffrage – where women had just earned the right to vote. What was even more amazing about her story was that Helen Keller had lost both her hearing and sight at the young age of 19 months. To be blind or deaf would seem to be sufficient tragedy for many. But Helen, would grow up being both blind and deaf. Against all odds and expectations, she would emerge as an inspiring model for millions of people, especially those who are disabled. She practically altered our perception of the disabled and remapped the boundaries of sight and sense. Once when questioned by a journalist as to what could be worse than being blind, she replied, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Some people are born blind. Others lose their eyesight as they are growing up. Many elderly people gradually lose their eyesight as they advance in years. Physical blindness in not a matter of personal choice. One becomes blind whether one chooses to do so or not.

But there is another blindness which is a matter of choice. This is spiritual blindness, the blindness which today’s readings speak about. Unlike physical blindness, we can choose to be spiritually blind.

What makes us blind? What prevents us from seeing? First, sin blinds us. It distorts our vision. Evil makes us see evil in others. If we allow sin to control us, then we will only be able to see the ugly, the rotten and the bad in others. But the truth of the matter is that what we see in others is actually a reflection of our present state.

Prejudice and presumptions also blind us. Prejudice distorts reality and the truth. We see this in the story of how David, the youngest son of Jesse, was chosen as king. Samuel assumed that God would have chosen the eldest or the strongest of the sons of Jesse to be king of Israel. His prejudice blinded him to God’s choice, David, the youngest and weakest son of all. Prejudice prevents us from discerning God’s will. It prevents us from seeing with God’s eyes.

Hatred and jealousy also blinds us. The Pharisees and chief priests in today’s gospel were filled with hatred for Jesus and were envious of his powers and his popularity with the crowds.

Selfishness and self-centeredness is also another reason for spiritual blindness. When we are only concerned with our own matters and problems, we will not be able to recognize the needs of our brothers and sisters.

Self-righteousness also blinds us. In the longer version of today’s gospel, Jesus ends the passage with this: “Blind? If you were, you would not be guilty, but since you say, “we see”, your guilt remains.” If we assume that we are perfect and that we are in the right, there is no need for conversion or change on our part. Salvation can only begin when we are able to recognize our faults and repent before God. If we say that we have no need for conversion, then we are truly blind.
The season of Lent is also called the Period of Purification and Enlightenment especially for those preparing to receive the Easter sacraments. The name suggests the nature or the dynamics of conversion in the lives of these candidates. Lent will be for them and for us a period of purification from the putrid stains of sin and evil. Lent will be a period where they and we will gain sight to see all things anew, through the lenses of faith. Our gaining of sight consists in our beginning to see ourselves as full of sins and capable of every evil and betrayal. Our gaining of sight consists in our seeing the world as it really is: lying in evil. Our gaining of sight consists in our beginning to see and appreciate in this world only God’s great mercy toward us and all of blind humankind. But if we do not see all of this, it means that we only think we that we see, but in fact we remain in our blindness—from which may the Lord deliver us!.

Today, Jesus, the Light of the World, wants to remove your spiritual blindness. Today, Jesus wants to give you new eyes to see – to see the world as how he and the Father sees the world. Today, Jesus wants to make you see him as he truly is – the Light of the World that has come to dispel the darkness of our lives. Are you prepared to cast off the darkness of your sins? Are you prepared to renounce your prejudices, hatred, jealousy and self-righteousness? If you are prepared, then join our Elect as they prepare to celebrate the second scrutiny. Unite yourselves in heart and mind with them as we renounce the causes of our spiritual blindness and ask for Christ our Light to dispel the darkness of our sins. Let us ask Christ to give us new eyes to see.

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