Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
March 17, 2023, Words By: Joel Aguilar, Image By: Oscar Constanza
I have pretty bad eyesight. I am nearsighted and farsighted, and I have astigmatism. Without my glasses, the world is hard to distinguish. Colors are not as vibrant, and I miss many of the beautiful details that surround me. That is why I freaked out recently when my vision became even blurrier than normal.
I got a small scratch in my right eye’s cornea. The cut was deep enough that I spent eighteen hours with blurry vision. I had never experienced something like that. I was really worried that I had damaged my eye permanently. After I visited the eye doctor, my fears dissipated as she assured me my eye would heal within 24 hours. It was uncomfortable, but nothing to be worried about.
But in a strange way it actually helped me see today’s text more clearly, as the theme of blindness resonated in a way it never had before. I could start to imagine, ever so slightly, how refreshing it was for the blind man to see the world in high definition. What caught my eye even more was the man’s newly acquired capacity to see human relationships in HD. That is to say, Jesus gave him not only his physical sight back, but also the sight to see, and be aware of, the violence around him — the violence that had excluded him for so long.
At the beginning of the story, there is a group of people whose spiritual blindness triggers the conflict around the healing of the blind man. This group is the blind man’s immediate community. In a twist of irony, his neighbors fail to see the miracle before their eyes: one of their own experienced healing! Sadly, instead of welcoming him back into the community, they bring him to the Pharisees to be interrogated.
In their context, blindness was understood as a sign of sinfulness that resulted in exclusion. This wasn’t fringe theology in Jesus’ day; even the disciples shared this belief. They asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Thus, they joined the blind man’s community in excluding him. Their theological tunnel vision was so strong that they were blind to his newfound sight and the fact that his human dignity was fully restored.
The whole situation with my eye got me thinking. Could it be that I am as spiritually blind as the blind man’s neighbors? How many times has my theological tunnel vision caused me to miss the chance to celebrate the redemption, inclusion, and restoration of somebody I had categorized as “bad” or “wrong”(read: unclean and sinful)? If I can’t accept that I have spiritual blindspots, imagine the joy I might be missing (and the pain I might be causing)!
Could it be that I become blind to the fullness of the kingdom of God when I question and refuse inclusion instead of celebrating it? The text makes it seem as if healing physical blindness was pretty easy for Jesus. But it’s interesting that healing theological tunnel vision was beyond Him, at least in today’s reading. I don’t want to keep missing the miracles of inclusion around me. I want to see them and be part of them. I want to witness these miracles so I can see the full beauty of God’s Kingdom, fall on my knees, and just like the blind man, celebrate and say: “Lord, I believe.”
Dwelling Among Us
Where do you need the gift of sight from the Spirit? Pray the “Welcome Holy Spirit” prayer from the Centering Prayer.
Come Holy Spirit, wild and free. Do as you please. Shine your light on me that I might see things as they are, not as I am. Free me to act in your name with courage, creativity, and compassion.