Baptism or Blindness

If we take the Gospel lesson of the Blind man (John 9:1-39) in its context within the entirety of John’s Gospel, we note that in the verses right before John 9:1 from John 8, Christ is in the temple and the Jews get angry with Christ and want to stone him, but Christ is hidden from them (John 8:59), or hides himself .

So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.  (John 8:59)

The Greek word “hid” is the same as the word used in Genesis 3:8-10 when Adam and Eve hearing God walking in Paradise hide themselves from God after eating the forbidden fruit.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”    (Genesis 3:8-10)

There are interesting connections between Genesis 3 and John 8, one in the temple and one in Paradise.  We know there is a relationship between the Temple and Paradise – they are interrelated realities.

In Genesis Adam and Eve are like young children covering their eyes and saying to God: “You can’t see me.”  And God even seems to play along with them in Genesis 3:9 –   But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

In Genesis 3 it is clear that though they still hear God after their sin, there is no mention of Adam and Eve seeing Him walking in the Garden.  They think they are hiding from God but it is they who can no longer see God.   The awareness of their own nakedness is directly the result of losing sight of God. – they are exposed despite their trying to hide.

In the temple in John 8 – the people are hearing God in Christ who is speaking to them and they don’t like what they hear.  They angrily want to stone Him but they can’t see Him for He is hid from their eyes.  Christ is God incarnate, standing in the temple – and the temple was to be the place where one could see God’s face (see my Jesus Christ Seen in the Temple), but the people can’t see Him because they don’t want to hear Him.  Eve and Adam were not happy when they heard God walking in the garden after they sinned, but though they still hear Him, they don’t see Him but they childishly think He can’t see them.  We can think about the blind man confronting the temple leaders in John 9:27:

He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?”  

The blind man comes to the point: the people knowingly and willfully refuse to listen to Christ.  That is why they cannot see Him for who He is.

As we move from John 8 to John 9 we read this:

So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.    As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.  (John 8:59-9:1)

The text moves smoothly and quickly from a group of people in the temple who cannot see Him to the man born blind from birth.  He too can’t see Christ, but he too does hear Him.  The temple is the sign of God’s presence and the place to see God’s presence, but they can’t see Christ in the temple.  They all are blind but not from birth but by choice – blinded by their refusal to hear.  But there is hope – the man born blind can come to see God – he will not only hear God in Christ, at the end of the lesson he sees Christ and so sees God.  If one is born blind not by any choice or because of anything they have done, and yet can be given sight, then those who choose to be blind should also be able to give up their blindness and to see God.

It is in the midst of the people being blind to Christ, that today’s Gospel lesson happens.

Is the Gospel suggesting that this man’s blindness is different than that of the people in the temple?  This man had no choice in the matter, he was born blind – an incomplete creation but not his fault nor the fault of his parents.  Rather, we see that physical blindness is not the obstacle to knowing God that spiritual blindness is.  Spiritual blindness is a choice.   Being physically blind is not an obstacle to seeing the invisible God!

The people in the temple cannot see Christ because of their own choices.   They refuse to believe Him and so he disappears from view.  The man born blind on the other hand is willing not only to listen to Christ but to obey Him.  And once the blind man obeys Christ, he is able not only to see  but to see God!  His eyes are opened as are the eyes of his heart, and so he sees God incarnate.    He is willing to give up his blindness and doesn’t choose to remain blind.  Thus God is able to work in him.

We all need to take note – we can stubbornly hold to our own ideas and remain blind to what God is doing in the world, in the Church, in the Scriptures.  We can angrily reject things Christ says to us because we disagree with them or don’t want to do them, or don’t want to change.

OR, like the blind man we can humbly give up our opinions and choose to obey Christ.

We can take hope that even if we are suffering from some illness, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, that we have not in fact been abandoned by God but that God will work in us to His glory.   AND we can learn compassion for others who are suffering from various illnesses, even if we believe the illness is a result of their own stupid sinfulness – from lust, gluttony, greed or drunkenness – and pray for them that God will work His power in them to God’s own glory.  This Gospel lesson is totally one of hope for those suffering physical ailment, mental illness or spiritual blindness.

We come to understand that Christ works for the glory of God – in having the blind man wash in the pool, we have an image of baptism and we come to understand that we are not baptized only because we are sinners.  We don’t baptize children because they are guilty of sin.   We baptize in order to manifest the work of God in the person.  We baptize infants that they might in fact experience the glory of God and be opened to their own spiritual nature.    Baptism is not God’s reaction to human sin, but God offering to work His glory in each of us.

And note, that the man born blind did not have to know everything before washing in the pool to be freed of his blindness.  Neither do we need to know everything before being baptized – that is why we believe the baptism of infants is essential to their spiritual lives.  In the text we see all kinds of things the man doesn’t know:

He doesn’t know where Jesus is

He doesn’t know whether Jesus is a sinner or sinless.

He doesn’t know who Jesus is, even when Jesus is speaking to him.

So too we baptize children so that God’s glory can be manifested in them.  Baptism is a spiritual birthing, we grow into it.  We baptize not just because there is sin in the world, but because each of us born in this world through natural birth have the means to be born again in a spiritual birth.

As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  (1 Corinthians 15:48-50)

Today’s Gospel lesson helps us understand the purpose of baptism which is not a reaction to past sin but a door into the future kingdom.  Baptism makes it possible for us to move beyond being merely flesh and blood, beyond being genetic beings or evolutionary beings, beyond the limits of self and society into the divine life, into eternal love, to being fully united to God.

The obstacle to our seeing and knowing Christ is not physical ailment, but spiritual blindness.  It is an obstacle that can be overcome in Christ.

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What the Blind Man Could See Even Without His Eyes

“And he who sees me sees him who sent me.” (John 12:45)

This past Sunday’s Gospel lesson was John 9:1-38  – Christ healing a man who had been born blind.   Several of the hymns from Matins today reviewed the events and point out that what was clear to the blind man was that the enemies of Christ were indeed “darkened in heart, mind and soul” and were willfully blind to the facts.  Christ’s opponents found the truth to be inconvenient for them and so they tried to change, distort or destroy the facts so they could hold to their own interpretation of events.

THE MAN ONCE BLIND SAW THAT THOSE WITH SIGHT WERE TRULY BLIND, DARKENED IN HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FOR WHEN THEY SAW THAT HE SUDDENLY WAS ABLE TO SEE, THEY QUESTIONED HIM WITH PERSISTENCE: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU NOW TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY?  YOU WERE BLIND FROM BIRTH.  YOU SAT ON THE ROADSIDES AND BEGGED!  HE TOLD THEM WHO HAD GIVEN HIM SIGHT, AND IN THE MIDST OF THEIR DARKENED ASSEMBLY HE CONFESSED YOU: THE SON, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER BEFORE THE AGES, WHO FASHIONED THE LIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSE, AND IN THESE LAST DAYS, IN YOUR COMPASSION, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, FROM THE VIRGIN MARY, DAWNED UPON THE WORLD AS A MORTAL MAN!

Light was shining in the darkness but those opposed to Christ preferred the darkness so that they wouldn’t have to change their own beliefs or practices.

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”  (John 3:19-20)

 

The man born blind is given not only his physical sight, but true spiritual insight.  He sees for the first time, but what he sees came not from his physical eyes but from the eyes of his heart and soul.  For he sees light for the first time and immediately recognizes Christ, the light of the world.  He was blind from birth but he was not willfully blind – given the opportunity, he could immediately see what those who had never been physically blind could not.

THE BLIND MAN WALKED THE STREETS OF LIFE LIKE ONE CONDEMNED TO ENDLESS LABOR IN THE PITS OF THE EARTH.  HIS FEET WERE BRUISED; HE HAD A STAFF INSTEAD OF EYES, AND THUS HE FLED FOR REFUGE TO THE GIVER OF LIGHT.  HE RECEIVED HIS SIGHT, AND THE FIRST THING HE SAW WAS HIS CREATOR WHO FASHIONED THE HUMAN RACE ACCORDING TO HIS OWN IMAGE AND LIKENESS.  HE CREATED ALL THINGS FIRST FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH, AND NOW HE GIVES LIGHT THROUGH DUST AND SPITTLE, OPENING BLIND EYES TO THE SUN, IN HIS LOVE FOR MANKIND.

Usually, if we get dust or dirt in  our eyes, we cannot see and our eyelids want to close.  But when Christ puts the clay made from dust and spittle on the man’s eyes, the blind suddenly can see for his eyes were opened.  Dirt and dust did not block his view but opened his eyes to the spiritual reality that Christ is Lord, God and Savior.

When God Becomes Visible

 The Gospel lesson of Luke 18:35-43 –
Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
We can contemplate with St. Gregory of Nyssa what sight is, how can we see God who is invisible?
“From what has been said then, it is clear that the Lord does not deceive us when He promises that the pure of heart shall see God (Matt. 5:8); nor does Paul deceive us when he teaches us in his epistles that no one has seen God nor can see Him (1 Tim. 6:16). For being by nature invisible, He becomes visible only in His operations, and only when He is contemplated in the things that are external to Him.”

The Blind Man Healed at Jericho

The Gospel lesson of Luke 18:35-43 has a blind beggar petitioning Jesus for mercy.  The blind man is given the gift of sight by Christ.

Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) writes:

“We must believe that our Savior’s miracles were truly performed, and that they are revelations as well; his works show us one thing by their power, and tell us another mystically. We do not know the historical identity of the blind man who was sitting by the wayside as Jesus drew near to Jericho, but we know who it is he mystically represents. The blind man is the human race. Driven from the joys of paradise in our first parents, and ignorant of the brightness of divine light, our race experienced the darkness of rejection. Yet we are enlightened by the presence of our Redeemer, so that we can already behold the joys of inner light through our desire for them, and can direct our footsteps, our good works, in the way of life.

The blind man is described as sitting by the wayside, and also as begging. Jesus himself told us: I am the way.

Those who are ignorant of the brightness of eternal light are blind. If they already believe in their Redeemer they are sitting by the wayside. If they believe, and acknowledge the blindness of their hearts, and if they beg to receive the light of truth, they are sitting by the wayside and begging. If any of you recognize the darkness of your blindness, if any of you understand that you lack the light of truth, then cry out from the bottom of your hearts, cry out with your thoughts, cry out ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Be Friends of God: Spiritual Readings from Gregory the Great, pp 23-24)

Bartimaeus: A Poem and Story of One Who is Blind

The Gospel lesson of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), has been a favorite of mine for many reasons.  I often see myself in him.  I have spent much time begging from God for the ability to see.  Certainly I have experienced times when others closer to Jesus than I have wished I were silent.  One can sit on the roadside and yet be a seeker, sojourning far into the eternity of the divine.  Seeking, sometimes not knowing what.  Questions are my quest.  I’m intrigued by the infinite while others want only the definite.  Some are so sure of what they have, where they are going, answered not asking.  Yet sometimes Christ speaks to a blind man who begs upon the way, asking not for charity, but for an ability to see answers to his questions.  One can only marvel that He stops to talk to an impoverished beggar.  Maybe we don’t always need the right answer from God; we need Him to ask us the important question.

The Good News:

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Christ healing the blind man
Christ healing the blind man

To See The Way

God asked a blind beggar,

What would you have me do for you?

My God! He’s blind, he can’t see what he needs,

Let alone what would be good for the world.

Why not ask the wise,

those used to power and choice,

or even me?

We would know given one chance by God

What to ask from the Almighty:

Wealth, health, power, fame, what an opportunity!

The choices are unlimited, the blessings infinite.

One could be quite altruistic:

Peace for the world, food for the hungry?

Immortality for all?  The destruction of mean people?

But only one can we choose,

And one chance to get it right.

I cannot see what is best to ask,

I’m blind as Bartimaeus.

Each wish is fraught with what is left undone,

Petitioners saying, “Don’t betray us!”

“Let me see Lord”

What each wish would bring

And fail to achieve,

Who would benefit

And who we would not please.

Wasted wish?

Now I see what I must do

The way is clear to me.

The Gospel:

blindmanThey came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Insightful Miracle

In time God decided to walk on earth and to find a man whose wish He would grant.

The angels excitedly watched to see if they would be needed to fulfill the wish of that fortunate man.  For they loved nothing more than to fulfill His will.  And they wondered who would be chosen and so blessed.  Perhaps a king whose wish was to bring justice to all the earth, or a great philanthropist who would share the blessings with so many others.  Or maybe, He would ask one of His Twelve apostles, holy men, imperfect true but who would no doubt wish the church’s success.  For angels are not omniscient and must wait to know their Lord’s will.

He was leaving Jericho, and the angels were sure He did not find that man whom He was seeking.  Then suddenly outside that city of tumbled down walls He heard a voice and stopped. He summoned a noisy blind beggar to come near to Him.  And then suddenly asked The Question: “What would you have Me do for you?”

The angels were astounded, for why ask a beggar what he wants?  It is obvious and well known that they are satisfied with small coins of no real value, bread crumbs and magic!  The apostles were stung, for even they had not been asked to have a wish fulfilled.  But they had been debating such a point, just in case they were asked – and they were vying to sit at the right and left hand of Christ in His glory.

The blind man hesitated not a moment to tell God his one wish.  He didn’t ask for vengeance on all who had walked by ignoring his pathetic poverty and insulting his worthless life to boot.  He didn’t ask for the winning lottery ticket to end his panhandling misery.   He didn’t ask for home or wife or comfort.   He didn’t even ask for happiness. Given the chance to ask whatever he wanted from the traveling God, the blind man asked to see.

The angels marveled, contemplating the opportunity, missed or achieved.    Christ granted the one wish of the poor beggar.  A new act of creation, giving the man’s eyes what they lacked – the ability to see.  Creator and new creation.  The man experienced what God said at the beginning, “Let there be light.”

Those who could see without the help of Christ were not so impressed at the blessed man’s request: for seeing hadn’t enabled them to find in life a way to be satiated or satisfied.

Who saw what was needed and important?  Eyes cannot help us see what the blind man could: the invisible, incomprehensible and ineffable God walking by.

Did the man-now-seeing use his newly given sight to become rich or powerful?  No.

He didn’t pursue the things of this earth, but rather a certain blessedness.  The man formerly blind now followed on the way the God who taught unworldly poverty.  He worked not for personal gain but to help others to see what he now could.

See other of my blogs on this blind man:  The Gospel Crowd as Church,  Giving Hope to Someone who has Lost It, Call to the Lord and He will Hear You

Seeing the Other’s Sin as a Way to See Oneself

The Sunday of the Blindman

As the Lord passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his  parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.   (John 9:1-3)

Many parents when seeing some tragic accident happen or while watching a news story about the tragedy have their children ask them, “what happened?”  The parents may offer a synopsis of what they know about the accident, but often are also evaluating – stupid kid, probably was drunk.  We try to make sense out of tragedy; it gives us some comfort to realize that there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why bad things happen.  But as the Book of Job demonstrates, sometimes the way we try to comfort ourselves in giving reason to personal tragedy are simply wrong.

The apostles in the Gospel lesson try to make sense of the blindness of this man, but there may be no reasonable explanation for it.  Trying to make sense of the man born blind’s disease, the apostles follow Job’s friends who were more trying to comfort themselves (“I won’t be next, I’ve done nothing wrong”) than to comfort Job (for they were convinced he had sinned badly).

In the Scriptures we read that St. Paul identifies himself as the foremost of sinners.  We also see the Wise Thief on the cross confessing his own sins before asking Christ’s mercy. Here is a quote from THE PARADISE OF THE FATHERS Vol. 2 regarding looking at the sins of others, and considering one’s own sins.

“If you see, moreover, a man who is a murderer, and a thief, and an adulterer, and one who sheds blood, you should think of your own final judgment.  For if this murderer at the end of his life confesses Christ, he will proceed me into the kingdom of heaven.  If you remember this is true of everyone, you will be less likely to judge them, and more likely to remember your sins.”

The tragedies of others, especially if caused by their sinfulness should give us reason to remember:  “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Truth is Not an Emotion

“When we are faced with the temptation of reducing our inner life to the level of intellect and emotions, as if the true spiritual life which is union with God were no more than deception, we need to hear the word: ‘And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God’ (Jn 17:3). This knowledge, or enlightenment, is the purpose of life. Light and truth constitute an inseparable pair, for we cannot find the way without light. Christ is the ‘Light’ and the ‘Way’, but in his freedom, man chooses between light, which requires a sustained effort, and darkness. St.Symeon the New Theologian expressed the heart of the problem in these terms: ‘He who is blind to the One is completely blind to all things. But he who sees the One is able to contemplate the whole.’ “ (Michel Quenot, The Resurrection and the Icon, pg 222)

Giving Hope to Someone Who has Lost It

Jesus healing a blindman

Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.  And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.  So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.  And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.  (Luke 18:35-43)

Sometimes to imitate Jesus requires us to stop and listen to a cry for help that otherwise is lost in teh bustle of the crowd and noise of every day life.   It is in our power to imitate Jesus.   To imitate our Lord is to stop and listen to one who is in need.  To imitate Jesus is to give hope to someone that their voice is heard, that someone cares about them.  We don’t have to give sight to the blind, we can give them hope.   We may not be able to cure what ails each person, but we can let them know that  we care.  We can listen for the cries of the needy and to their pleas to assure them that they are in fact beloved of God.  We can wipe away tears from the eyes of the suffering, even if we cannot take away their pain.  We can notice them and affirm their importance by taking time from our busy lives – from all that is important to us – and making their existence important to our lives.  We affirm the sanctity of human life when we treat the humans we encounter in life as important to our own well being.   As Metropolitan Anthony Bloom said:

” …And I think that if we became even small light – if we became nothing but a small handful of salt that prevents corruption – if we could bring a little hope to the hearts of people who have lost all hope, a little faith in the sense of trust and faithfulness and knowledge of God, a little love, we would be fulfilling our vocation.  This is what we should bring, each of us perhaps a crumb, all of us all we possess, and express this in the readiness to give without asking any return.”   (Crow, Gillian, This Holy Man:  Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony, pg 159)

The Gospel Crowd as Church

2009 Sermon notes for Sunday of the blind man     Luke 18:35-43

blindmanAs Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; [36] and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. [37] They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” [38] And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” [39] And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” [40] And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, [41] “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” [42] And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” [43] And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

 (In a previous blog I commented on the parish as crowd)

 We generally accept the notion that the Church is the body of people who follow Christ.  In the Gospels the nascent Church is the crowd which follows Christ.  In that crowd are His Twelve disciples, the Seventy Disciples, the Women Disciples of the Lord, as well as all kinds of curiosity seekers, those craving to be fed, those hoping for a miracle, and also Christ’s enemies. 

In today’s Gospel lesson we also see a particular role the followers of Christ play – they help make known Jesus and they help others to know of Christ’s presence.   The blind man sitting by the roadside might not have noticed had Christ passed by alone.  It is the crowd that catches the blind man’s attention – it is the crowd that causes the blind man to seek out what is happening.  The crowd is making a noise and a fuss about the man they are following.

And when the blind man hears that Jesus is walking by, he begins to shout out to Jesus, begging Jesus to help him.  The blind man cannot follow Christ unless someone helps him, for he cannot see the way to follow Christ around.  But the followers of Christ help the blind man to locate Christ.  This is the role that Christ’s followers should play – it is the role of the Church.  People, even the blind can take note of the Church to find their way to Christ the Savior.

In the Gospel lesson however, those following Christ apparently think following Christ means keeping their attention solely on Jesus – Jesus alone is all that matters.  But in this thought they misunderstand what it means to follow Christ, for to follow Christ is also to be a light to the world, to all those in darkness.  The followers of Christ cannot just stay focused on Jesus, for to follow Him is also to pay attention to those who sit in darkness, to the needy, to the beggars, to the poor.

These followers of Christ however endeavor to silence the blind man who is seeking Christ and seeking Christ’s mercy.  They want to deprive the poor blind beggar of getting to Christ.  Perhaps they fear that the beggars getting to Christ will cut them off from Christ, but they certainly have not understood and taken to heart Christ’s message of love, forgiveness, healing and restoration. 

This blind man however is not distracted by the crowd nor will he be led astray by their effort to mute him as well.  Nor will Jesus allow Himself to be deafened by the crowd, for He hears the plaintive plea of the beggar and calls the blind man to Himself.  And the crowd is awed by what Jesus does and gives thanks to God for what they have seen.

We as Church are to imitate Christ.  There are many who are blind in many different ways, who cannot find their way to Christ.   It is our task as Church, as the followers of Christ, to help these people know about Christ so that they can seek Him out.   We may disapprove of some of these blind people, or of their lifestyles, and we may be totally annoyed that “they” should think that Christ would care about them.   If so, we would be like the crowd in today’s Gospel, trying to make the blind mute as well.

Our true task however is to attract the attention of these blind, the beggars, the outcast, the unwanted, the unloved, so that they can hear about Christ and seek Him out.  Our focus cannot be on Christ alone.  Christ has called us to love the least of His brothers and sisters, to bring sight to the blind and healing to the sick.  It is not our job to cast these people out, nor to judge them, rather our role is make it possible for them to become part of the crowd who are following Christ.