As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When I was called to the office of bishop in 2014, I finally heeded my wife’s advice and made an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
I hadn’t been to any sort of eye doctor for several years before then, although I realized my need to go every time I lifted up my glasses to read the small print in a book. That print looked as if it was getting smaller by the minute. Then there was the night driving when I almost had to be right up on a road sign before I could make out what it was. It is only by the grace of God that I didn’t wind up in a ditch somewhere, or worse.
Even now, more than six years after cataract surgery, I don’t read well in limited light. I need to be near a lamp, and if it has a three-way bulb, it has to be on the highest setting. I have also had to forsake my vanity and use reading glasses, which I swore I would never do.
So, the question I, or any of you that have been in a similar position must ask ourselves is, “Why? Why do we continue to torture ourselves and try seeing and reading through the same fuzzy lens?”
I’ve already alluded to vanity as part of the reason. But I also suggest that one of the reasons many of us drag our feet in taking corrective action is to mask our fear – a fear that we’ll have to do something different, or uncomfortable, or might require more of us than we’re willing to give.
In today’s Gospel reading, we meet a man born blind. The story will be concluded tomorrow, so let me give you just a preview of what is to come. By the end of our narrative the question that will beg for an answer is, who is the real blind person in this story?
We hear this Gospel reading on the Fourth Sunday in Lent of Year A, which was last year, 2020. At that time, we were just entering the early stages of this unknown journey into the land of the Coronavirus. What we thought would be a matter of weeks has now extended into months
The lessons we have learned during this time are voluminous, not to mention the precious lives lost in the process. And the learning continues. We have become adept at working from home. Our residences have become remote classrooms as our children have had to adapt to online education. We have discovered new ways of being church and suspended in-person public worship.
Technology is a wonderful blessing at a time like this, when we are forced to keep a safe physical distance from each other.
But yet, as I mentioned earlier, there are those who have insisted on seeing through the same fuzzy lens of ignorance and stubbornness, resisting doing what is necessary to stay safe. They refuse to trust the science. They have politicized the regulations and restrictions imposed by those whose responsibility it is to lead us through this unfamiliar territory.
Of course, even some of those leaders have cowered in the face of such opposition and hostility, given in to the foolishness, and backed down from the restrictions. Others have resigned in exasperation.
Jesus comes into this madness as an ophthalmologist to correct our muddied, blurred, sight. He corrects our vision and helps us see more clearly. Jesus says to us, open your eyes! See what I see, and let it move you to your core and change your life.
Now, more than ever, we need the illumination of Jesus. We need growth in our understanding of God’s presence in our lives, and commitment to demonstrate to the world that God is active in our world, and we are those through whom God shows care and concern for what happens to us.
We also need each other, to be the corrective lens for each other, to encourage each other in our witness, and strive to heal those divisions, in order that our faith, and the faith of others, may grow and flourish.
Our journey through the pandemic is far from over, but thank God we have Jesus to help us see our way through the uncharted path.
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
† † †