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?"
"Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
To be deprived of one of our precious senses would be a tragedy indeed. Yet, there is something about being deprived of our sight, whether from birth or as a consequence of a disease or accident later in life, that is particularly difficult and challenging. To see, enables us to interact so effortlessly with the world around us – to take in its beauty, to be engaged with the gift of creation.
No wonder then that the miracle story that we have heard today from the Gospel of John, of the healing of the man born blind, holds such power and importance for us, not only from the purely human perspective, but also for us as a people of faith.
These healing stories are invariably powerful metaphors that speak to us of the truth of the Gospel touching so many dimensions of our life in Christ. It is not by accident that this story appears mid-way through our Lenten itinerary of conversion. From the earliest centuries of our faith, this story of the light of sight flooding into the eyes of the man born blind by the power of the Master, has held a place of prominence. As many of you know, the origin of the Lenten Season is intimately rooted in the ancient days of final preparation of the unbaptized for their new life in Christ through the Sacraments of Christian Initiation at Easter. The great baptismal themes of darkness giving way to light, despair giving way to unfailing hope, death giving way to eternal life, are mirrored in these stories.
Our story today, then, is one that is far more concerned with the gift of vision than merely the gift of sight. I’m sure many of you, like me, have met individuals who may see perfectly, but lack vision in life. Our towns and cities are overflowing with the hopeless and anxious, for whom the chapters of their lives are one dead end after another. Seeing perfectly well but lacking a hope-filled vision for the future, they live the proverbial lives of quiet desperation. Then, there are others, who may physically be deprived of sight as a result of, let’s say a war injury or some other tragic mishap, yet, they rail against the darkness and will not let this misfortune of nature rob them of their vision for life. They will not be defined by this disability.
My friends, Christ has come to gift each one of us with the vision of seeing with God’s heart and mind, with the vision that hope in his saving mercy and unfailing love gives to us. It was this kind of vision that enabled Samuel to see in little David, a great leader for his people. And, it is this kind of vision that the Lord wanted for that man who was graced to hear and see Jesus the day of his miracle.
And so, sisters and brothers, as we gather this day for the great remembrance at this Table of grace and blessing, may we hunger for far more than just sight this day. May we pray for the vision of the Lord, that it may sustain us and fill us with joy all the days of our life.