One of the things Jesus says about Himself , quoting Isaiah in Luke’s gospel, is that “he was sent to bring new sight to the blind.” It’s no wonder then that all four Gospels tell stories of how Jesus cured blindness. John’s story of the man born blind and his encounter with Jesus is much more detailed. It is a rich source of illumination about life for it deals not only with spiritual insight and the triumph of light over darkness, but also the struggle in life against the power of human darkness.
Caught up as we are in the Coronavirus pandemic, we may become distracted from other important aspects of life and be inclined to shed the daily food that sustains us spiritually – the Gospel, prayer, the recognition of God’s abiding and tender presence, our concern for and service of others. We might find ourselves stuck in the darkness. Plato, centuries before Christ, reminded us that “we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy in life is when adults are afraid of the light.”
In this time of potential panic, let us not be afraid of the light. Instead, let us call upon faith to help sustain us through the threatening darkness of world-wide illness.
Three thoughts about the journey out of darkness seem important for us to consider:
It’s a very long journey from blindness to sight to insight. Most often, we carry our blindness alone, accommodate to it until Jesus stands before us, touches us and urges us to take the next steps if we want to see. Left alone, we stay blind. Sharing what we experience may be very helpful.
We come to insight only when others challenge what our sight means. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees jeer and deride, threaten the man born blind with rejection. They try to make him back down from the truth of his experience. But his truth, his determination is greater than their pressure.
Holding fast to the truth of his experience, the man born blind prefigures Jesus – who from his capture in the Garden of Gethsemane to His death on the cross is challenged by the powerful who also jeer and deride Him .They try to derail Jesus from embracing the deep meaning of what he is doing.
Just as the man born blind was instructed to wash his eyes, we too have been washed at the instruction of Jesus. We call our washing Baptism – a once- in-a- lifetime event which we draw upon all our lives. In Baptism, we receive the promise, the invitation and the grace to be one with the Risen Christ. But there is no automatic guarantee that we will live in the light. Living out the promise, the invitation and the grace is our work. That’s one reason to keep Lent carefully, especially in this stressful year.
Are we afraid of the light? If not, then we are not afraid to experience Christ coming through self-giving, suffering and death to radiant light to walk with us at this fearful time. It is in His light that we will see where we are, and how to make our way through the days ahead.
~Sister Joan Sobala