Sunday of the Blind Man — Seeing with New Eyes

Today is the sixth Sunday of Pascha, and we read from St. John 9: 1- 38, and learn of Jesus’ healing of a man born blind. This restoration of sight is the sixth sign that is reported in St. John’s Gospel. This miraculous sign occurs “that the works of God might be manifested in him.”

His healing takes place in a sacramental manner: Jesus “anoints (chrismates)” him from clay made by the mixing of Jesus’ saliva (the saliva of God) with clay on the ground (we have the union of divine and material). Jesus then instructs him to have his eyes “baptized” by washing off the anointed clay from his eyes in the Pool of Siloam. “He went and washed and came back seeing” (9: 7). With his new vision he encounters Christ:

Jesus heard that they cast him out [of the Synagogue], and when he finds him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And he answered and said, “And who is he, Lord, that I might believe in him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” And he said, “I believe, Lord!” and he worshipped him (9: 35 – 38).

Jesus concludes with this statement: “…For judgment I came into this world, in order that those who do not see might see, and those who see might become blind” (9: 39). Putting it another way, that those with only natural sight might see with new spiritual eyes, and those who cling only to natural, physical sight might become blind — no spiritual sight can be given to them. We find this in a kontakion for the day:

I come to you, O Christ, blind from birth in my spiritual eyes, and call to you in repentance: You are the most radiant Light of those in darkness!

By our baptisms we have been joined to Christ by the Holy Spirit. By our chrismations we have received the Holy Spirit. By Communion with Christ’s Body and Blood of the Eucharist we are joined ever more perfectly to him. We are cleansed. His victory, his Light and Life course through us. By our lives of faith in the Triune God we have that life and have such spiritual vision.

But it also seems that our spiritual vision needs to be strengthened — brought into focus. We need to discipline our spiritual vision first by what we DO NOT see. We have this in Psalm 100 (LXX)/101 (MT): “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is base…Perverseness of heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil” (100: 2b – 4a). St Paul’s words from Phil 4: 8 accompany the words from the Psalm:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise think about [LOOK UPON] these things.

Putting what is pure, etc., before our eyes / in our minds plants pure seeds into our hearts (…enable us on earth to glorify thee in purity of heart). Discern and judge what we put before our eyes! Is it worthy, or will it cloud our spiritual vision?
Nest, we need to learn to see without prejudice. This is a mental spiritual exercise.  From the Prayer of the Hours we have this portion of the prayer:

…O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications and direct our lives according to Thy commandments. Sanctify our souls; purify bodies, set aright our minds; cleanse our thoughts…”

Allow me to relate to you a personal wake up call. I play acoustic guitars and love the instruments. I have reviewed several guitars found elsewhere in this blog. I subscribe to a magazine called Acoustic Guitar. From an issue two to three years ago there was an interview with a very well know man who owns a very well known shop in Nashville. He is now elderly, and the photo of him in the article was NOT flattering. I, through darkened eyes, judged him to be someone I would probably neither like, nor want to meet. However, the worlds best guitarists go to his shop not only to purchase a fine new or vintage instrument, but to learn from this man. I learned that he is generous, gracious and that he is respected and admired for his character that — simply by an unflattering photo — I was not willing to see at that moment. This was a wake up call! The corruption of soul that still abides could only see with eyes of prejudice! I took this to confession, and may God’s healing continue in my soul.

I ask a question. Upon what and whom do we look with a spiritual myopia? Granted proper discernment and simple wisdom will tell to avoid some situations and people. However, with spiritual eyes we can look upon any person or circumstance and encounter and engage it eucharistically. With such vision we can “rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 thes 5:16 – 18).

I return to the kontakion mentioned earlier, and may its words be formed into a prayer: I come to you, O Christ, blind from birth in my spiritual eyes, and call to you in repentance: You are the most radiant Light of those in darkness!

The following is a corresponding homily:

In Christ,
Fr. Irenaeus

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