The readings tell us an overwhelming story of the interplay between light and darkness, sight and blindness. That made me start to meditate a question: what does it mean to have spiritual eyes? Because there is no doubt that there is a difference between the way we see things and the way God sees things.
In the first reading we see King David being chosen as King—but he was not the most obvious choice. He was just a shepherd boy at the time, and he was chosen over his very tall, strong and impressive looking brothers. We hear God himself say to Samuel the prophet:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
We need to remember that despite David’s later sins, he truly loved the Lord. He acted extremely honorably when it came to King Saul trying to kill him. He refused to kill the Lord’s anointed. He wrote songs and poems for the Lord. He fasted, prayed, and even danced for God. He fought battles for God. He was concerned with God’s law and God’s glory. So the first rule of spiritual sight is never to judge a book by its cover, but always to try to judge things by the heart. That might sound find and good on the surface, but what does THAT mean? Well, the second rule is like the first—what it means to judge according to the heart is to be concerned about the glory of the God who MADE that heart, not the heart that chases after its own desires. The model for how to do that is Jesus Christ. He was constantly saying things like, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.” And “Not my will but thine be done.” The problem here, my friends, is how do we know what God’s will is unless we are honestly trying to pray about it and seek it? Or are we afraid where God’s will will take us, as if we would be truly happier seeking our own foolishness rather than his wisdom? If we seek our own will for too long our eyes become darkened and we become poisoned with our own desires.
I know you have seen this happen. Think about an addict who has held on to her addiction so long that she actually justifies her behavior. Or think of the adulterer who holds onto his false love for so long that he actually justifies what he is doing. This is exactly what Jesus is referring to when he says at the end of the gospel:
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”.
The Pharisees are claiming to be able to see while being blind. They are holding on to their human wisdom and then claiming to be Godly-wise. And Jesus says that because of this—because they hold on to their own ideas and conceptions—they are both blind and full of sin. The Pharisees are acting exactly like the addict or the adulterer that I mentioned. The whole issue about the man born blind is this: Jesus made clay with spit and dirt on the Sabbath, which the Pharisees considered as WORK. That was a violation of the Jewish Sabbath. So here Jesus comes along actually healing people on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees are so stuck to human traditions that they can’t see the Son of God shining in all his glory right in front of them. They are blinded by their own ideas. WHERE ARE WE LIKE THEM? What do we hold onto that might blind us? I’ll give you three questions to ask yourself to put you onto the trail of what might be blinding you:
1) What really makes you angry?
2) What do you resent or judge the most?
3) What are you afraid of?
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Follow the money and you’ll find the crook?” Well, follow those three questions and you will go deeper and deeper into the darkness of your own heart where you yourself are blind. And then try to bring the light of Christ there. This is what Jesus meant when he said:
“We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.Night is coming when no one can work..”
The nature of spiritual blindness is that it is the kind of disease that tells you that you do not have a disease. Spiritual blindness will tell you that you can see. We need to correct ourselves while God’s light is glimmering in our hearts or we will become convinced that we are able to see.
This is really not so hard to understand. Think of this image. God is light. The gospel says this several times. Have you ever noticed when reading the life of a saint that they often think that they are the worst sinners? There is a reason for that. The closer you get to the light, the more dirt you see on yourself. Ever looked at your clothes in a fluorescent light? You look absolutely horrible, because you can see every speck. And this is exactly why some sinners think that they are pretty awesome people. They are sitting in the dark and they can’t see all the spiritual dirt and grime in their own hearts. And so being dirty, they declare that they are clean. Being blind, they claim they can see.
The third rule of spiritual sight comes from the second reading according to St. Paul. He tells us not to do the deeds of darkness, but only deeds of light. And what does that mean? It means that if you have to hide what you’re doing then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. To come into the light means to leave behind the deeds that you are doing in secret—because if it’s done in secret, that is like doing something in the dark. We need to remember that at the final judgment, we will stand before the entire hosts of men and angels and by a gift of heavenly grace and wisdom, everyone will know everything that we have ever done, thought, and said. WOW. I’m not sure how much I like that, BUT I DON’T MAKE THE RULES. (I’ve told y’all before that I’m not in the business of management, I’m in marketing.) But I’ll tell you what—sometimes I think about this promise and it makes me change my behavior. We are supposed to bring the deeds we do into the light—we do this most by going to confession with our thoughts and deeds of darkness. When we bring what we are doing into the light, it allows what we are doing to be seen by another perspective. Because I hate to say it, but our perspective, including my own, is often WRONG. As the saying goes, “More light comes through two windows than just one” and also “He who has himself for a spiritual director has a fool for a spiritual director.” So share what you are doing with someone who you actually consider a godly person and not merely someone who will agree with your own point of view.
And similar to this, we are also supposed to expose deeds of darkness. That doesn’t mean necessarily to rat people out, but it very well might mean that we are responsible to correct a brother or a sister if they are doing something wrong and in secret. The Christian thing to do is to confront them personally in charity and affection. Here’s a question: If we allow a Christian brother or sister to walk blindly into a pit that could snare their souls without telling them or grabbing them, even if they might fight us about it, do we really love them?
My friends, when it comes to doing God’s will, I want to give you an image.
I once knew a man named Jim who actually had been blind from birth. He spent his life being led around by other people or by his trusty seeing-eye dog, Ceasar. He was one of the happiest men that I knew, and seemed to be able to get around fine—but he did have to depend on something outside himself. This reminds me of one of my more favorite bible verses in Proverbs 3:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
When it comes to the spiritual life, we are all like Jim. We are all blind, and need to be led by the word of God, by holy advice from worthy people, and by the sacraments. This is not always easy to be led because it takes some humility and some dependence, but I’ve not often heard of a person or a seeing eye dog leading a blind person into a pit—but funny enough— I have often seen people who said they could see walk into some pretty deep pits all on their own.
So lean not upon your own understanding and trust not in your own sight. But trust in the Lord, and he will give you the light to see the pathway that leads to eternal life.