Summary: Fourth Sunday of Lent - Spiritual Blindness
Seeds for Sowing, Vol. VI, Issue 2, No. 16
Fourth Sunday of Lent- Year A
March 10, 2002
* 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Someone once asked Helen Keller, who had been blind since the age of nineteen months, if blindness were the worst thing that could befall a person. She answered that the worst thing that could befall a person was not to lose their sight but to lose their vision.
As a child, Helen Keller had lost her hearing and sight yet was able to lead a beautiful life to complete college and become an author and lecturer. This happened because someone was able to break through her silent, dark world and teach her how to communicate. She was able to lead a very beautiful life of helping others despite her limitations. In spite of great obstacles she had a sense of purpose and vision in life.
Most of us have blind spots, presumptions, ideas and perceptions that we don’t even think about changing. These blind spots are major roadblocks in our spiritual journey. They can cause untold harm to others and to ourselves. Even a quick reading of today’s Gospel shows us in a graphic way how blind the Pharisee’s were to Jesus and to his work. These religious leaders were leading people into the darkness, not into the light. Their interior lives had become hardened, like a rock. They had become so smug and sure of themselves that they were not able to recognize Goodness itself as it was shown to them in the person of Jesus. They were as blind as a person could be.
Any blind spots that we possess are there because we have developed them. This development was not done at random. We carefully chose our blind spots to protect us from something that is perceived as a threat. The Pharisee’s refused to see the power and goodness of Jesus. Their blind spot protected them from having to give up any of their authority or power. That’s not an unusual blind spot, is it? Many people in authority protect themselves from anything or anyone that would threaten their position.
How to See our Blindness
We are presented with this Scripture today so that we might be inspired to take a closer look at those areas of our lives that we have blocked off from God and from others -- even from ourselves. But there seems to be an in-built problem here. If I am blind, but don’t recognize my blindness, how can I move towards the healing of this blindness?
Blind spots are usually created around our fears. If there is something that we need to protect from outsiders, then we conveniently fail to see the reality that threatens us. Prejudice is a blind spot. We think that those who are different from us are a threat to us, and so we develop a distance from them. We come to fear what they will do to us. You can see that our blind spots are not rational. They come from a fear. This is why you can’t argue a person out of their blindness. They are emotionally unable to listen to you. Only conversion works to help people see. But to be converted we must be open to receiving new sight. This is why prayer can be the first step towards sight. In prayer we open ourselves to God working within us. If in our prayer, we sincerely and continually ask God to reveal those parts of ourselves that we refuse to look at, we can be sure that God will answer our prayers.
There is one clue to our blindness that we would do well to be aware of. That clue is anger. Now it’s true that there are many reasons for anger, some good and some bad. If we become angry because an injustice is being done, we are not doing anything more than Jesus himself would have done. But, if we are honest, most of our anger is not provoked by injustice. We are often angry because someone has threatened something that is personal to us -- whether that personal thing is a possession that we cherish, or an idea that we cherish.
So it’s important for us to pay attention to our anger. The Pharisees became so angry with the blind man who was cured that they threw him out of the synagogue. It’s easy to see why. The fact that he was cured by Jesus, someone who was not exactly a friend of theirs, didn’t help the popularity or authority of the Pharisees. So in anger they throw the man out of the worshipping space over which they claim to have power.
Search Out Your Angry Places