(A note about this photo. This is Meg Murry, in the 2018 A Wrinkle in TIme. Meg must learn about her own blindness to save her father and her family. Check out the book.)
Imagine yourself as one of the disciples, walking down the street and into the marketplace with Jesus. It’s a noisy, hot and busy place, everyone gathers, does business, sits in the shade drinking the original chai, that is tea, black and strong. Actually, that’s everyone with status and power. But the marketplace is also the place where the poor, the crippled, the blind, go to beg. Jesus saw a blind man, and stops. Rather than giving thanks for the miracle of sight, the first thing out of the mouth of the disciple who asked is, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? And Jesus’ answer is that this man’s blindness is not due to his parents’ sin or his own sin. In fact, to Jesus, this is not about sin at all. Many people of Jesus’ time thought that a physical ailment was do to you sinning or inheriting your parents’ sin. But for Jesus it’s not about sin at all; it’s about sight and seeing.
Jesus heals a blind man. Here is a man who has just had his sight restored, truly a miracle, and all the disciples can talk about is whether this man is the man who used to sit and beg. They really can’t quite place him, even after he says who he is, even after all the years they’ve probably walked by him in the marketplace. They want to take him to his parents’ house so that his parents can identify him, and then his parents don’t seem to be overjoyed at the miracle either, it seems they don’t want much to do with their son.
Eventually the conversation turns to who the man is who healed the blind man, and the blind man says, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.” It is an astonishing thing that they don’t know who Jesus is; and, that Jesus healed this man who they all know was blind. They just don’t believe him.
I think this is a story about who is really blind; it is a story about seeing and not seeing. Jesus saw a man blind from birth. The disciples looked right through the blind man, they had seen him sitting in the same place for years, but had never seen him. When Jesus healed the blind man, the blind man saw Jesus for who he really is, the One who is from God. The Pharisees could neither see the blind man, nor could they see that the one who healed the blind man is the One who is from God. The blind man is the one who sees, the disciples and the Pharisees are the ones who are blind.
What is it we are blinded by? What is it that is right in front of us that we don’t see? All of us are born blind in one way or another. Some of us have blindness of body: a crippling disease, cancer, diabetes, or bad bones. Some of us have blindness of heart, and that is a terrible blindness. The blind of heart can’t love another beyond a superficial level and usually can’t even love themselves. The blind of heart often live lives corroded with addictions to material things, possessions, and work, to cover up the empty hole. And worst of all is blindness of the soul, which wraps all the rest of life in gloomy darkness.
We have our screens in front of our faces much of the time. Our phones, our tablets, our laptops. Are we blind to the people in our lives? Do we ever say to ourselves, “I just can’t see my way through this.”
Or maybe we are blind to our own self-indulgence. The messages we constantly get are messages of possession and consumption. Competition for our dollars spurs networks to charge millions of dollars for seconds of advertising time, advertising that forms us into people who believe that the aim of our life is to acquire more, to have bigger, better, newer.
Or maybe we are blind to our own pessimism. This culture of fear we live in has a tendency to take our hope away. Sometimes it is difficult to see who we really are, people who are claimed and marked by God, delight of God’s life. Perhaps we are blind to the pain of a neighbor’s sorrow, or the loneliness of a child, or the needs of a spouse. Perhaps we are blind to the other who is different, whose life seems so foreign to our own, that we just don’t understand. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in making a living, pursuing the good life, or running from our fears that we just don’t see.
What kind of blindness lives inside you?
Jesus notices our blindness. Jesus sees. Jesus invites us to see. Jesus invites us to see with our very blind eyes, with our wounds and brokenness. Jesus uses our weaknesses as grace.
On our Lenten journey we are called to be healed of our own blindness, and we prepare for celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the bread broken for us, and we celebrate that through Jesus we come to see others, all creation, and ourselves as wonderful gifts. This is the Good News that shines brightly through our blindness. The Good News that Love wins. Jesus has offered us a new view of life, death and resurrection. We have been called and claimed, but not because of distinctions, achievements, family lineage, or personal attractiveness, not because God sees us as any more beautiful or deserving as anyone else. God’s love is blind to such plastic categories.
We have been called and claimed despite our tendency to blindness. We have been called and claimed even though we trip over those we cannot see. We have been called and claimed despite looking directly at someone, and not seeing who they are, their pain and suffering, or their joy.
But, in this new view of life, we recognize that life, death and resurrection means that we must look at people in the eye, and that we take a new look at ourselves. It takes time to see clearly, and we must be patient in our recovery.
When we see with the healed eyes that Jesus gives us, we will recognize that each and every one of us is a wonderful creation of God. When we look into the eyes of our neighbor, we may see a person who is hurting and lonely just like us; and we may see a person who is blessed and joyful, just like us. When we look into the eyes of the one who we think is wrong, we may recognize a person who has come to their convictions by way of hurt and sorrow, just like us. When we look into the eyes of the one we hate, we will recognize someone who God loves, just like us.
And when someone looks into your eyes, do they recognize who you truly are, a new creation, a person healed and transformed through love by God? Can they see your life, can they see your struggle, can they see your sadness, can they see your joy, can they see your integrity, do they recognize you, washed in the waters of baptism, clean and pure, a reflection of the creator God.
Do they see one whose life, right now, attests to Jesus, the light of the world? Do they see that you love Jesus? Do they see that you follow Jesus? When someone looks into your eyes, do they recognize mercy, compassion, justice, forgiveness, healing?
In what ways, during the rest of this Lent, can you open your eyes to Jesus? In what ways, during the rest of this Lent, may you be healed of your blindness?
Lord God, heal our vision, so that we may see you more clearly, right here, right now. Amen.