Fr. Gregory Hallam · June 1, 2011
Sub Deacon Immanuel gives the homily on the Sunday of the Blind Man.
The Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark and Luke all relate stories of how Jesus healed people who were blind. But the healing of the blind man in the ninth chapter of today’s Gospel from St John is different. This blind man had been blind from birth. He did not expect to be healed and he did not ask Jesus for healing. It was Jesus who approached him, “spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes,” and then told him “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which by the way has now been uncovered in the city of Jerusalem). So the blind man “went away and washed and came back seeing.”
I think many of us are in the situation of that blind man. Certainly, I am. We are not yet aware of the power that Jesus Christ can have in our lives; and we wait, unknowingly, to be drawn to Him. We think we can see; and that is precisely our problem, just as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees in the final verses of that ninth chapter of the Gospel of St John: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
We do not realize how spiritually blind we are, how much more we could see if we trusted Jesus totally. Now, as committed Christians, we are not in the position of those first century Jews, the Pharisees who tried so hard to observe every law and got so confused about the meaning of life. We know Jesus is the Messiah, one of the three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, at times, I think my understanding of the work of Christ in my own life is somewhat like another blind man whom Jesus healed in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of St Mark, verses 22 to 26. That healing took quite a while. Here again, the disciples pointed out a blind man to Jesus and took that blind man to Him; and Jesus took the blind man “by the hand … brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, [Jesus] asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’”
This blind man was brutally honest, just as we need to be with Jesus. The blind man “looked up and said, ‘I see men, but I they look like trees, walking.” Jesus did not dismiss him because of his honesty. On the contrary, Jesus again “laid His hands” on the eyes of the blind man. And this time the partially blind man “looked intently” at Jesus and his sight was fully “restored.” That is precisely my situation, and perhaps yours: We have seen Jesus Christ dimly. Our spiritual sight has been partially restored. But now, we need to look at Him intently, and to become one with Him, to discern and implement His will for each of our lives.
We can each learn to see spiritually if we look more carefully at Jesus Christ. Perhaps we are in the situation of St. John the Baptist who sent his disciples to look intently at Jesus and find out if He was the Messiah, the Christ. In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of St Luke, verse 22, Jesus told those followers of St John: “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.” St John the Baptist understood this evidence did confirm that Jesus was indeed the Christ; and in the third chapter of the Gospel of St John, verse 30, St John the Baptist told his disciples: “He [that is, Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.”
What does that mean for us today? For me, it is a warning: I shouldn’t talk so much; I should listen to others more carefully. I shouldn’t live according to my own ideas and ego, but rather, seek to discern how Jesus Christ wants me to live. I shouldn’t try to do so much; I should focus only on those activities, which include prayer, that Jesus wants me to do.
Perhaps our pastor is very much in the position of St John the Baptist. He is drawing each of us to Christ, but he does not want us to become committed to him. He wants us to look intently at Jesus Christ. If we act with compassion, if we pray, if we read the Bible—we will be looking at Jesus Christ intently; and our sight will then be fully restored. May it happen soon! Praise the Lord!