Most People are Spiritually Blind

Three years ago, when our Gr. 4 teacher, Ms. Delfin, was in hospital for a month, she was in excruciating pain, had to cancel a semester at UBC, give up a job, and learn to walk again.  When I went to visit her while in the hospital, I said to her family, “This is good for her.  The suffering is a blessing.  It will help her move closer to God and mature her.  She’ll see that there’s more to life; it’s not just about doing whatever we feel.”

Recently, I asked Ms. Delfin what were the key moments in her life that brought her to make Jesus the center of her life, and she mentioned that that sickness was one of them: For the first time in her life, for example, she started actually meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and she didn’t feel alone.  The key word to describe what she felt was peace.  Now, the whole experience could have gone either way: Either it could have brought her closer to Jesus or not.

The Gospel today shows how a man’s blindness and healing lead to his growing closer to Jesus, while it leads a group of people away from Him.  We’ve mentioned before that, after his healing, the man born blind progressively knows Who Jesus really is.  At first, when asked by his neighbours about who cured him, he answers, “The man called Jesus” (Jn 9:11); later, under pressure from the Pharisees, he’s admits that Jesus “is a Prophet” (9:17); then later, he declares, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (9:33); finally, when Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (9:35), he replies, “Lord, I believe” (9:38).

The Pharisees are on the opposite trajectory: At first, they acknowledge that there’s a healing; then the hostile group among them starts to doubt that the man was ever born blind; finally, no matter what evidence he gives, they refuse to believe.

Let’s reflect on three current-day situations that can go either way:

1) When people from the Philippines come to Canada, do they, in general, move closer to Jesus or further away?  This question applies to every immigrant.  Most people come to Canada for a better life, whether they be from China, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Poland, etc.  The question is: Do they move closer to Jesus?  What about their children, who have inherited a better life?

2) Do more people come closer to God after a wedding or after a funeral?

3) When do most people go to the chapel?  Is it when they find out that they: a) got a raise; b) were accepted into a great university; c) got a beautiful Christmas present; d) have cancer?

In the Bible, the poor, needy, and oppressed are generally closer to God because they tend to be humbler.  The man born blind acknowledges his ignorance three times and eventually, through his humility, comes to know Who Jesus really is, while the Pharisees three times state confidently that they know who Jesus is when, in fact, they don’t.  These are the blind man’s words about Jesus: “I do not know” (9:12), “I do not know whether he is a sinner.  One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (9:25), “Who is he, sir?  Tell me, so that I may believe in him” (9:36).  Humility is essential to recognizing Jesus whereas pride and self-reliance separate us from Him.  That’s probably the reason why, when things are going really well in life, most people think they don’t need God.  They’ve become proud.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are many people who, after seeing God’s blessings in a new country, grow in faith; and when they get the blessing of graduating, get a beautiful job, etc., they say, ‘Things are too good.  I don’t deserve this.  God has blessed me.’  Furthermore, we may not articulate it, but we experience that Someone loves us personally, which is true.

Today’s homily is simply about moving either to spiritual sight or spiritual blindness.  Whatever is happening to us right now, do we see Jesus’ hand in it?  Do we experience that He loves us personally, that we’re not alone?

The reason we were created is to be loved by Jesus Christ and to love Him in return.  If we can see, are we coming closer to making Him the center of our lives?  That’s the response of those with spiritual sight.

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