Groping in the Darkness of the Light

3 04 2011

In our journey towards Salvation we need to take note whether or not the Light of Christ illumines us or blinds us.

 

In John 9 we get to enter into an amazing scene where Jesus restores the sight of a man born blind. There are some great elements here: The disciples mistakenly thinking someone’s sin has caused the man’s blindness, Jesus spitting in order to make mud to put on the man’s eyes!, the religious leaders disbelieving the man’s testimony about Jesus’ miracle, the uneducated man whom Jesus healed taking the educated folk to task for not seeing the truth that only a man from God could restore sight, this same man “worshipping” Jesus (scandalous blasphemy!), and lastly we hear Jesus saying this:

 

 

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (v. 39)

 

Uhhh… I thought Jesus came into the world to save it, not judge it?! (note John 3:17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”) Maybe the ‘ole Apostle John should have had a reputable editor go through his gospel before he published it!

 

Is Jesus just speaking in riddles? Is he being mean-spirited? What’s going on here?

 

To begin to get at Jesus’ meaning I offer a simple question: Why do we wear sunglasses? I know, some wear them to look good for the paparazzi. Practically speaking, however, we wear sunglasses because the glare of the sun is painful to our eyes and because they enable us to see more clearly, especially when driving. On a sunny day I develop a headache if I fail to wear my sunglasses. Now, obviously, people were able to adjust to bright sunshine before sunglasses were invented. One can, over time, develop the ability to walk about in the bright light of mid-day without the aid of sunglasses in the same way that one’s eyes can get acclimated to a dark room. But if some unfortunate chap has been living all his life in cave, it will take a lot of time and patience to become acclimated to a sun-drenched world.

 

Jesus, being Wisdom incarnate, is simply stating the facts: those who have been walking through life with only a little candle they have made themselves, AND who smugly believe they can see better than the dumb saps with puny oil lamps, will find themselves blinded by the uncreated Light who brought the light of the sun on-line to begin with. Those who thought they could see will, now that Christ has come, grope around in the darkness of the eternal Light, while those humble souls who freely confessed their blindness will have their sight healed so that they can begin the process of becoming acclimated to the Light.

 

It is the spiritual self-assuredness of the religious intelligentsia that is coming under Jesus’ judgment.

 

In this season of Lent, let us all who call ourselves Christians, allow ourselves to be duly warned by Jesus’ hard words here. The Church gives us the season of Lent in order to humble us. Most of the time I’m incapable of giving up just one meal in order to focus on prayer. Every Lent, no matter what I attempt to “give up” or add, I discover again how weak and spiritually pitiful I am! This is not supposed to cause me to give up (which is what Satan would want) but it is to cause me to cry out like blind Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:46)

 

But Lent is also given to us so that we may have opportunity to practice getting acclimated to the Light. Let us not think that simply saying the sinner’s prayer, or faithful church attendance, or feeding the poor are sufficient by themselves to prevent being blinded by the true Light of heaven. On that great and terrible Day when the Son of Man judges the earth, may we be able to gaze upon Him with acclimated eyes. Eyes that have grown accustomed to His uncreated light through the day-in, and day-out exposure gained through holy disciplines: prayer, Scripture, sacraments, fasting, service, worship, silence & solitude, holy friendships, extending forgiveness, and any time-tested practices we can get our hands on!

 

As we stay on this path of acclimation to the Light, we will begin to sense deep within the truth of the Apostle Paul’s declaration, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8) [Remember, Paul himself once knew what it was like to be blinded by the true Light!]

 

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, AMEN.

 

Fourth Sunday in Lent (April 3, 2011)

  • First reading
    • 1 Samuel 16:1-13
    • Samuel’s anointing of David, “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (v.7)
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 23
  • Second reading
    • Ephesians 5:8-14
    • “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (v.8)
  • Gospel
    • John 9:1-41
    • “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (v. 39)
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