What a wonderful, inspiring parable we hear in today’s Gospel.
At that sacred moment of our birth, we are all blind- our eyes are closed. Given life from the moment of conception, in the womb, we have no idea what life will be after birth. We could never imagine the Sun, the moon, and the stars. We could never imagine a sunrise or sunset, or people walking, or running around, or talking to one another. There’s a whole new world out there.
We have no idea what lies ahead. We can’t see the future. We gradually are given sight, and then gradually we can begin to focus.
Those who were born blind never have the experience of knowing what something looks like, just like the blind man could not recognize Jesus because he had never seen another person.
One who becomes blind later in life remembers images. We have a sight memory that reminds us of what something or someone looks like.
Two years ago, I attended the National Association for the Blind convention that was held in Baltimore; I met many people who were blind. There was much joy because they were together. Laughing and Singing and Karaoke. Because, when you are blind, you do not always feel part of the community. Sometimes people will push past you to get to the door when you don’t even know where the door is. Each of us, whether we are blind or sighted, need to be welcomed and encouraged. When we are part of a church, it heals our blindness.
The same is true with our spiritual sight. Having spiritual sight means that we can see something beyond the physical. Some of us can remain blind in all of our lives. We can open our eyes, but we cannot see. We can hear about the love of God, but we do not experience it. During our life, we hear that we should love God and love our neighbor, but sometimes we don’t - we don’t open our eyes wide enough to let the light of God in. We only use about 2% of the capacity of our heart to love. Even when God is right in front of us, we may want to close our eyes. We try to avoid the light.
And then there is this instant encounter with Jesus. An encounter with the light of the world and Jesus opens our eyes. Like the man born blind, we have a choice. We must decide whether we are ready to do what Jesus says and to go wash in the pool of Siloam, or ignore Jesus and remain blind. The blind man made the best decision. He chose to follow Jesus. Why did Jesus put clay on his eyes? Why did Jesus ask him to go wash in the pool of Siloam? Jesus always respects our free will.
Before the blind man could see, he first had to wash the clay from his eyes. He had to follow what Jesus said to him, and he came back to Jesus able to see. There is a point of decision in our lives. Should we wash our eyes? Are we ready to open our eyes to the Lord, or do we wish to stay blind? Some people choose to stay blind; only they don’t know it.
When we have this encounter with Jesus, our lives change. We are no longer short-sighted, or nearsighted. We are given the faith to see life with a whole new set of eyes, with spiritual eyes made clear. We now have a vision for life, and it's called “eternity.” We now have a focus, and it is called “love.”
As we change our lives, as we come to see this new world, our friends will be amazed. People will say to us, “Is this the one who could not see? Is not this the one who could not see beyond himself?” What's happened? And your only answer is, “I was once blind, but now I can see.” Now I have a plan for my life, and I want to follow Christ. For those who have chosen to come into the church this Easter, there is a whole new world. God has opened up his plan for our lives, the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, the Eucharist, his body and blood, confirmation, marriage, Holy Orders, or anointing.to begin to enjoy the full life that God has for us. That’s why I like the Catholic Church so much because it opens up for us a whole new world.
We promise to God that we will set aside our selfishness. Selfishness is when we can hardly see beyond ourselves. We can begin to believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God; that our lives are essential; and that the decisions we make in life will affect the way we live and will affect all those whom we know.
Like the people in the Gospel today, there will be those who do not believe. It is beyond their comprehension that's such a stunning miracle can occur. And, although we might not understand it all, we have that inner confidence, that faith, that inspiration from the Holy Spirit, that God is alive, and he is alive within our hearts within our minds and within our souls; that he speaks to us; and that he opens our eyes so that we may see love. We begin to see compassion; we can see with our spiritual eyes the needs of others, and God will open up our eyes to the wonders of his splendid creation, and we can experience the hope the God has for each one of us.
May we remember this day, this mass, this moment. May we remember the good news, this Gospel of the man born blind, and pray that God will open our eyes more and more to the great blessings which God has bestowed upon us.
We have only a glimpse of what our lives will behold with the eyes of faith, just as we could not imagine beyond the womb, now we can see eternity as a reality.
And we can all joyfully say, “I was once blind, and now I see.”