In the words of the Lord in this powerful gospel, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
In this great miracle story of the healing of the man born blind, we’re given a visual of how the Lord cannot do nothing. When confronting and addressing the results of original sin, in this case the result being blindness, Jesus couldn’t walk by without performing some act of love toward this blind beggar. And when he did so, it was never a halfway action or lukewarm performance. We ourselves will do things in half-hearted ways, unless some part of life really grabs our attention, like being a sports fan, or playing a sport, or praying a daily Rosary which so many do. Then we put in the full effort if it’s a joyful action for us. But with other things, the effort can be lukewarm at best.
With Christ, there is no lukewarm. There’s no saying, “I’ll cure your right eye today, and if you come back tomorrow at the same time, I’ll see what I can do about the other eye.” When many folks today have cataract surgery, and both eyes need the surgery, the eye doctor performs the procedure on one eye per surgery weeks apart, so both eyes will not have to deal with the effects of the surgery at the same time. Jesus takes care of it all at once, and it’s accomplished with complete success. We can bet the man born blind never had to go in for cataract surgery after being cured of his blindness from the Master Healer.
The great spiritual point in this incredible story for the 4th Sunday of Lent, our halfway point, is not so much Jesus healing the man born blind, as he did for countless people with their various illnesses. The great spiritual point is that the Lord, whatever he does while in the world, is accomplished with unconditional love and no holding back for 2nd surgeries. 10 lepers would not have to deal with leprosy ever again. Maybe something else, like a kidney stone, but not leprosy. Because once the power of God touched the life of the sick and dying, the physical illness was done away with. Except in one situation, and we’ll hear that next week with Lazarus, who will go on to die a second time. But God saves his greatest miracle for last.
“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Therefore, one question to be asked is, “Is Jesus still in the world? Is the light that came down from heaven still in our midst? In the midst of great suffering, blindness (physical and spiritual) in the midst of infanticide, financial pressures, in the midst of depression and addiction, cancer and Alzheimer’s? Where is the light of the world? Where are you, Jesus, when it seems there are so many places and events where you are absent?”
For us, and no pun intended here, it takes a certain set of eyes. Eyes that see Christ present through our actions of love and compassion. Eyes that remain open when we’re confronted with a challenging situation that demands from us a reaction of jumping in, and not turning away or running away. In my dealings with the People of God in this Parish, I have joyfully witnessed much jumping in, and very little turning away from any life crisis.
Again, as Jesus walks by the man born blind, we would have to say this is the first time he crosses paths with this blind beggar, and the Lord cannot not do something. He cannot not react. He was all in then; he is all in now. He’s all in with us. Jesus healing blindness one eye at a time would have been like us giving brownish coins – pennies – to a person standing on the corner with a sign.
At the end of their corner shift, they throw the pennies on the ground, keeping the silver and the paper. I know this because I’ve seen the pennies on the sidewalk when out walking, approaching the intersection of Park Ave. and Salisbury. Don’t give that guy pennies, because he throws them out. Or, one eye at a time is like a priest performing half of the Sacrament of Anointing. Which is not good enough.
How to see Christ in our culture today takes a very personal response from each of us. To not see him is to be controlled by doubt and lack of faith. How good is the question in this Gospel by the man who can now see, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” “The one speaking with you is he.” To see him in our midst is realized when we practice our faith with full force, and not the halfway stuff that produces little good.
As mentioned, the one exception where the miracle work of Christ is not total forever is when he brings a person back to life who will die again. While he is in the world, he is the light of the world. While he is in the world, he must also leave the world for a few days to finish the work that destroys the one exception that affects all of us, the exception of death. The doing away of that one exception we celebrate in a few short weeks.