• Gospel Reading
  • In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! This morning, we have in the Gospel reading the healing of a blind man. Christ passes by a man who was blind from birth. And He forms for the man new eyes from the dirt of the ground and His own spittle. And puts the newly fashioned eyes into the blind man’s eye sockets, and sends him to wash. And, of course, the man is healed. Several other important things happen in this Gospel, from Christ having the opportunity to correct the false idea that a man’s ailments are necessarily the result of his own sin, to another rejected opportunity by the Pharisees to actually see Who Christ Is. But at the center of this morning’s Gospel is the healing of a blind man. And we find this particular miracle in the lectionary on a Sunday between Pascha and Pentecost for very good reasons. The Fathers never miss a chance to frame things in a way that we can be edified and taught from the events in the Scriptures in many different ways.

    To go into this miracle this morning we’ll begin with a question—What is the utmost desire of my heart?

    This particular man who was healed this morning is the only person blind from birth who is healed in the Scriptures. Healing those blind from birth was considered a much greater miracle than healing someone who once could see but had lost their sight. Giving someone something they never had—be it sight or mobility or speech—this was one of the signs of the coming of the Messiah. The blind man can easily be understood as any of us. Mankind is spiritually blind from birth. We don’t easily see into the deeper Mysteries of mankind and creation. We don’t easily see God. And for the most part, there comes a time in our life when we realize that there are things we are blind to. We don’t understand life. We don’t understand death. We don’t understand other people. We’re not even able to understand ourselves. So there comes a time when we see that we’re blind. Those around us know it much soon than we do. But then we have to answer that question—What is the utmost desire of my heart? Do I want to understand these things that I don’t understand? Do I want to go deeper, to have my eyes opened in new ways? Or am I happy being blind?

    The man who was healed in this morning’s Gospel knew he was blind. And he knew that others around him could see. He couldn’t conceive of what vision was, since he had never been able to see, but he knew the people around him had something that made their lives much better in some ways than his was. We don’t have the record of his asking Christ to be healed, but we know that his desire was healing because he cooperates. He allows Christ to put the mud on his face, and he goes to the pool to wash. We’re all born spiritually blind, but Christ comes into the world as the light of God. Being in the Church this morning, we have the opportunity to see the Word of Christ. Christ comes into the world to open the eyes of the blind. And this doesn’t just mean physical healing. When He performs these miracles, He never seeks recognition. He downplays miracles because the healing He’s come to bring is spiritual healing. Opening the eyes of man to see the deepest Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Opening man’s heart to see God. And once man can see God, then he can have a relationship with God, and in fact, can be continually with God. The Church would teach that all of us have moments when we see that we’re blind, and when we’re offered the Source of healing. We all have to have these moments, because God desires not the death of the sinner, but that he turn from his way and live. This Liturgy, any service of the Church or reading of the Scriptures or holy books, all of these are moments when we’re offered the healing of Christ. There are many other moments like this: moments when we’re being prepared to receive Christ, most significantly for our modern ear to hear are times of sickness or loss. Times of weakness and pain and broken-ness. These are inevitable times that for some reason we’re always looking to escape. But the Fathers tell, as Christ also did in the Gospel this morning—these things happen “that the works of God should be revealed in [them]” (v3). So we all have opportunities for our blindness to be removed. But we often turn away so quickly; we turn as soon as we have the chance to be healed. The blind man in this morning’s Gospel receives healing, and throughout the course of the reading he draws noticeable closer to knowing Christ. The Pharisees also have one of those moments, they have a chance to see. Christ has healed a man blind from birth, an obvious sign that He is the Messiah. But they turn away as soon as the opportunity is presented—and throughout this reading, and in fact throughout the entirety of the Gospel, they continue to fall further away. Each rejected chance for healing pushes us further from Christ, and makes the acceptance of our next chance even harder. And we are back again to our opening question—What is the utmost desire of my heart?

    All of us show the desire of our heart in our actions.
    And the fact is many of us simply don’t want to see. We’re happy being blind. Even in the Church, we’re happy being ignorant of the fullness and the richness and the depth of life and healing offered in Christ. We’re happy continuing in our blindness. We’re happy not having to change. Because once the blind man was healed, his life was changed. He had to stand up to the Pharisees and proclaim the Truth. Like the Samaritan woman last in last week’s Gospel—she had to go home, to a place where she was despised, and tell people about Christ. They had to risk rejection. They had to risk change. And when the man who now can see says “Lord, I believe,” and he falls down and worships Christ (v. 38), he gives up his claim on his own life. Once he confesses that Jesus is the Christ, he has no option but to follow. Or rather, the only other option is total darkness after he knows what it is to see. The choice seems easy. But to follow Christ isn’t always so pleasant, it isn’t always so easy. It requires some sacrifice. And it requires giving over our will to another. And so we all—members of the Church, Christians, non-Christians, faithful strugglers, not-so-diligent strugglers—we all have to answer that pesky question: What is the utmost desire of my heart? If it is to be healed. To see, to have the blindness and the darkness we live in removed and replaced with the light of Truth and Life. Then the desire of my heart must be “Lord, I desire to see Thee.” And if this is our desire, then no matter the sacrifice or the inconvenience or the burden, no matter what, all that we do should be focused on bringing us closer to Christ. There are things we’ll have to stop, others we’ll have to start, people we may have to avoid, mindsets and habits we’ll have to change. But all that “sacrifice” is in exchange for life with Christ. What is the utmost desire of my heart? To live my way, to fulfill my will, and to remain in utter darkness? Or to see the risen Lord, and to walk daily in the light of His countenance as an inheritor of the good things and the life of the Father. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!