3/30/2014 Fourth Sunday in Lent The text for today’s sermon is taken from John 9:1-4
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Look at my eyes. If you haven’t ever done so, take a good look at my eyes when you can. Eyes are really something, aren’t they? There’s a lot of mystic build around the eyes. There have been pages and pages of poetry on them. To some people, the eyes are the first things which attract them to someone. The eyes are claimed to be the gateway to a person’s heart – and to the very soul. Your feelings show in your eyes. That’s why, if you are lying, you can’t look someone straight in the eyes. That’s also true when you’re in class and haven’t prepared the assignment. There’s no way you’re going to even look at the teacher when he or she is calling on people for the answers. When we feel uncomfortable, we either look away, or we hide our eyes behind dark glasses. We carry on very special conversations with our eyes, without ever uttering a word. How sad it would be if no one ever looked at us, eyeball to eyeball.
Of course, before anti-glare lens, looking into my eyes was a bit difficult. For, I’m like many in that I need glasses to see and glasses can distort the very thing that they are meant to correct. But there was a time in which not even glasses helped my vision. For, I was born with a problem that went noticed for years. I was born with strabismus (which is known as lazy eye or amblyopia in young children). And that meant that my eyes didn’t coordinate.
It wasn’t until after my 21st birthday that I became aware of the problem I had from my youth. I had grown up with headaches, and thinking that they were normal and that everyone had them, I never complained about them. But I later learned that they were caused by efforts to control a pair of screwy eyes. Time passed and the older I got, I began to lose more and more control until I was plagued with double-vision and surgery became the only the answer to the dilemma.
I had no idea of what could happen in this surgery. I expected to wake up and open my eyes, and see the world united. What I got was chaos. My world was turned upside down and inside out. All dimensions were split. I could not longer tell where things were, or how tall they were. I flailed around in the dark. I had to rely on the senses of touch and hearing to function after sun down. But that wasn’t even the worst of what happened. For, you see, the doctor who did the surgery gave me an ointment with Neomycin to put into the eyes – even though I had told him that I was allergic to that medication. The result was hideous. My eyes became infected and pus ran out of them. No one could look at me. No one could stand to look at me. So, when they saw me coming, they went the other direction – all because of my eyes. I cried out for help, but no one came to my aid because they couldn’t look at my eyes. So, there I was – I had done nothing wrong and yet I found myself alone, cast out, abandoned, rejected, at the very time that I needed people the most.
I was the victim of a hereditary defect and an allergy. I was blinded by failing vision. I was blinded by a world turned upside down and inside out. I was blinded by fear and abandonment. I was blinded by the struggle to survive. But, oh, how many times have you been blinded? How many times has your vision been clouded by circumstances beyond your control? How many times has your world been turned upside down and inside out? How many times have you been consumed by the struggle to survive? How many times have you felt cast out, alone, abandoned, just when you needed people the most? How many times have you found yourself reaching out in the dark in an effort to find your way?
The blind man in today text was in this type of predicament. He was begging in the streets for a few coins in order to survive. He was an outcast of society – labeled a “sinner” – because, through no fault of his own, he was born blind. He dared not to expect anything different, anything better for his life, on that day when Jesus came near. He had no reason to expect anything to change. But Jesus did what the blind man dared to ask. He gave him his sight. Jesus spat on the ground, made clay of the spittle, anointed the man’s eyes, and sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam. Jesus did this, not because the man asked, but so that the works of God might be made manifest in him.
Not really expecting anything to change, not even daring to hope that things would change, the blind man did as Jesus instructed. For, what did he have to lose? He was already an outcast. He was already ridiculed. So, he did as Jesus instructed. He went to the pool of Siloam and washed. And behold, his eyes were opened. For the first time in his life, he saw. He was no longer a captive of darkness for he had seen the Light, and he was changed. He changed so greatly that people didn’t recognize him. Through his encounter with Jesus, he became a different man. He would never be the same again. And, oh, what joy! For, he who was blind now could see.
The news of what happened to this man spread. People refused to believe it. So, the man was brought before the Pharisees and questioned. The man attested to what happened. They refused to listen. So, once again, he was cast out. Once again, he was alone and abandoned for not even his parent support him for fear of retribution. But Jesus did not forget the man. When he heard of what happened, Jesus went to the man and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. And, with open eyes and heart, the man answered, “Yes,” and he bowed down and worshipped.
Our eyes, too, have been opened by faith. We have been anointed by the blood of the crucified Christ, and cleansed in the waters of baptism. We, too, have been given the chance to walk in the Light. For through God’s eyes, we are special. We have been given a vision of life in paradise where all eyes are focused on one who can give us sight. But, like the blind man, we are not immune from the hardships of life. We, too, face struggles and disappointments. We, too, may feel abandoned, lonely, cast out. In fact, our profession of faith in the very one who has enlightened us may put us in hot water.
There will be times in which our world is turned upside down and inside out. But Jesus will not forget us. We live in the promise of Jesus Christ to be with us always, even unto death. Even unto His death, alone and abandoned on a cross. Even unto our death – in whatever form it comes. Things may not always be as we envision them. Life is a combination of joys and sorrows, but the stressful times and joyful times will both come to pass. We may not always feel happy and, at times, life may deal us some hard blows. There may be times when the people we count on the most in life will reject us and turn away. Yet, none of this need blind us. For, none of this can separate us from God. No one and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. The secret pains of our hearts are known. Our eyes, the gateway to our heart and soul, have been opened and we, sinners as we are, have been made acceptable to God – not because we dare ask – but because God so loves us. God is with us. So, in all circumstances in life, we are not alone.
And, if we dare to recognize others through God’s eyes, we will have the courage to support and stand with those who are blind, offering them the vision of a better day, and hope for a new beginning when all will live the Light of Christ. That Light, which takes away the darkness from our path, shall endure forever.
May we hold fast to that Light in the darkest times, and may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.