Once my Father was driving home in a dense fog and almost missed the turn into the neighborhood. He couldn’t see the way in; he didn’t know where to turn. At the last moment he caught sight of a beautiful Wisteria tree on the corner where the turn was and quickly cranked the truck to the right. He cleared the curb and was able to get home.
The Christian life can be likened to driving in the fog. God gives us a glimpse of himself when necessary, but spiritually we “walk by faith not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) We are dependent on God and must trust him in all things.
In today’s Gospel the man born blind is in a fog, not merely blind physically but spiritually as well. He doesn’t know Jesus. There is no indication that the blind man was searching for Christ and that he even wanted to see. Aren’t we like that at times, not looking for assistance from Christ and wandering aimlessly especially in a crisis we now experience?
Christ heals the man but he still doesn’t know who he is. There’s a delayed response. Although he now can see physically he still isn’t there spiritually speaking. He must go through all the trials and hardships of dealing with the irate and annoying questions the Pharisees ask. The man is doubted, condemned and then thrown out of the Synagogue.
Finally, he comes into contact with Jesus and now the spiritual conversation occurs. Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replies, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus “connects the dots” for the man and reveals himself. The man answers, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Now he truly sees.
Our lives are also lives of blindness, trial and confusion, but in the end it’s our faith that carries us through. In our current difficulty we are experiencing trial and hardship. Do we respond to the love and kindness of God quickly or are we slow to acknowledge Christ?
In our current battle against Covid-19 one of the lessons learned is a quick response to the virus is key to getting ahead of the natural spiked curve of infections.
In the spiritual life a quick response to the infection of sin is even more necessary. Spiritual blindness and lack of faith are far worse than any physical trial because they keep us from seeing God working in our lives and his love for us. The blind man might have been disabled physically but spiritually he was healthy because once he was able to come in contact with Jesus he pronounced his faith openly.
This man stands for the Christian who lives by faith. The Pharisees on the other hand can represent the world. Their questioning reveals their skepticism. It appears that rather than wanting to believe the man’s story they are only interested in tearing him down and poking fun at the man’s understanding. It’s interesting that even with the evidence of the man’s healing, his ability to see after being blind his entire life, they refuse to believe.
The world’s approach is built on skepticism. As Christians we must start with an open, believing heart willing to respond to God’s mercy and grace. We are not to follow the Pharisees’ example by reversing the process, saying, “Tell me what the Church teaches and I’ll think about it and if it works into my lifestyle and conforms to my will and desires I’ll agree with you.”
Where would any of us be if the Blessed Mother approached the Annunciation in this manner? What if instead of giving her fiat, her yes, she said to the angel Gabriel, “Well I’ll think about it, see if it works for me and then I’ll get back to you?”
Similar to driving in the fog, the Christian life is difficult to negotiate and travel at times. We ask ourselves why a pandemic, why suffering and death? We’ll never know all the details and have all the facts. We won’t escape pain and sorrow. We’ll often be in a fog and unsure where we are and which way to go. If we look for Christ in our lives we will catch a glimpse of him, just like the Wisteria tree in the fog.
Just like the blind man in today’s Gospel we must eagerly and joyously respond to God’s call in our lives. We must avoid the skepticism of our times and embrace God’s will for us as the blind man did. Doing so is akin to the blind man’s journey from the darkness into the light of sight. We move from spiritual death (darkness) to life (light). As St. Paul states in the first reading, “Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord…Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
The corona virus will eventually peter out and that’s a good thing but it’s our faith that must remain even with or without a crisis or catastrophe in our lives, for the true goal of the Christian is not physical health but spiritual wellbeing in preparation for life eternal.