A few weeks ago at the annual altar server paintball outing, the ref started off by saying: “Ok, pick teams.” And before myself or any of the other chaperones could speak up to devise a way to make things fair – the youth, perhaps premeditatedly, had selected two captains. The next thing I knew, I am lined up against a fence next to 10 year olds praying that I don’t get picked last. I turned to one of the dads and said “this is just like middle school”- he gave a polite chuckle and said, “Padre, they are in middle school.” O right. And just like middle schoolers they picked the biggest guys first, and this time I just so happened to be one of them. Finally- I had to wait 25 years, but I was one of the first people picked. And just like in the first reading, human estimation for sizing each other up is often wrong. For in the very first round of paintball, it was little Johnny Downey, who can’t be much over 3 feet tall, who was the sneaky little sniper with a heart of a lion that captured the enemy flag. I know this because I had a prime viewing location, along with all the other adults, who got out in the first few minutes and we had to stand behind the safety-net of shame and watch. There is a clear parallel between that little Johnny and little king David- where human eyes are blind, the Lord sees clearly. In relation to the Gospel, the blind man sees what the Jewish leaders were blind to- the real identity of Jesus.
Why, in this beautiful twist of irony, do they become blind and the blind man gets sight? Perhaps more relevant to us, what guarantee do we have that we do not become blind like them? How might we avoid this?
Another way to answer this is to examine our world view- what is the perspective through which we view the world? Do we have the eyes of faith? Do we see things the way God sees them?
Our Lord in the Gospel today saw two types of blindness. Two types of blindness caused by two types of sin. Now the man born blind was not being punished for his personal sins, his parent’s personal sins, but, in one sense, his first parents- the original sin, that first sin that has since entered our world and disordered everything. This is a type of cosmic sin that has cracked the original harmony that was part of His original design. The second form of blindness is caused by the person sin of pride. It was the pride of the Pharisees that they had it all figured out. Their blindness was compounded by fear- a fear that they might lose their power. Their self-absorption made them so blind they couldn’t see the fact that a miracle had just taken place. Sin makes us nasty because it blinds us to others. Sin makes us stupid for we become blind to the truth. Sin makes us a slave to creature comforts because it makes us blind to the Creator. Jesus is the Divine Physician and He has a doctorate in ophthalmology. He has come into this world to correct our vision. He is our light. He gives us the eyes of faith. He gives us a lens through which to view the world and each other.
Today we are confronted with two types of blindness. One type is cosmic and the other type is personal. Jesus is the only remedy to both.