• Epistle Reading: Acts 16:16-34
  • Gospel Reading: John 9:1-38
  • In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! In today’s Gospel reading, we have the healing of a man who was blind from birth. This is the only time in the Scriptures where a man is healed who was blind from the time of his birth, and in fact, this type of healing (of infirmities that were not cause by something that happened to a person, but were there from the beginning of that person’s life) was thought to be the most difficult, and it was a sign of the Messiah to be able to heal in this way.

    In the writings of the Father’s, this blind man is typically seen as a type of humanity. That human beings are blind to God from the beginning (not only of our lives, but we turn in the Garden of Eden as soon as we have the chance). And it’s only in Christ that our vision can be restored. And not just by the fact of Christ—many people knew Him and were around Him but didn’t believe in Him. Just like this blind man, he conversed with Christ, but it’s only in his experience of Christ, when he experiences first hand the healing power of the hand of God, then he believes. And nothing, no amount of ridicule or even threats from others, will shake his faith, because his eyes have been opened and he’s seen God. Christ came to reconcile us with God, to bring us spiritual healing. But often He uses physical healing as well—this morning He heals the man’s physical eyes, and later on He teaches Him to go and sin no more (He gives the man the words for spiritual healing); and in another instance with a lame man, He forgives the man’s sins, and as proof that He has the power to forgive sins He heals the man physically. But His focus is always on healing the afflicted soul, reconciling man to God.

    We have a parallel situation in our Epistle reading this morning. The jailer (and obviously the authorities, and the other men with the head jailer), these men are spiritually blind. Paul and Silas have been thrown in jail because of their ministry for Christ (really out of the anger of the owners of the demon possessed slave girl). Their words, which are the healing words of Christ, haven’t been heard. And even in the prison they are teaching, and praying, and singing hymns to God. Then there’s an earthquake, and when the jailer sees that all of the doors are opened, he assumes that the prisoners have escaped and he prepares to take his own life. But then the actions of Paul and Silas really prepare another earthquake, because no one tries to escape. And in a moment, at a time of crisis, the eyes of the jailer are opened by the actions of St. Paul and Silas, and all of that teaching and praying and singing that the jailer’s been hearing all night, these things come together with the actions of the saints and the blindness of the jailer is lifted. And he responds to this moment of clarity, and he falls on his knees and asks St. Paul, “What must I do to be saved?”

    In both the Gospel and the Epistle, it’s the actions of our Saviour and of His Apostles that lead to the healing of the people around them. This is a scene played out countless times, even in our lives, today. We are illumined; those baptized into Christ have been healed of our spiritual blindness (unfortunately we all too often cloud our vision with sin), and as members of the royal priesthood of all believers in the Body of Christ, we’re the ones in the position of those who can see clearly. And we’re surrounded, every day, by multitudes of people who can’t. And if you can’t see clearly, even if you aren’t fully aware of this deficiency, you’re looking for help. And these people know (in some small way at least) what we profess to believe, they hear us, and they see us, they observe us (just like Christ and the Apostles were watched and heard). People watch each other far more than we like to acknowledge—we watch each other, we see what other people are doing, and even though it’s sinful, we form judgments about people based on what we see that they don’t know we see. We do this, and others do it to us.

    And in everyone’s life, there’s some type of “earthquake.” Whether it’s something terrible, or potentially terrible, or a moment of grace and clarity. Everyone at some time, and for most people it’s many times in their lives, they have some experience that really gives them the opportunity to see, to contemplate Truth and Reality; to respond to Christ in a way that perhaps has never been possible for them before. And especially through the scenario in the Epistle reading, it presents us with the question—are our lives allowing others to see Christ in us? Are we transparent to Christ; in other words, do people see us, or can they look through us and see Christ? Because if they can see Christ in us, if they can see God working in us, then a door will be open. But our lives and our actions could just as easily shut this door as well.

    We struggle in our lives always to follow the commandments of Christ. His commandments are life, as the Scripture says, and our doing of the commandments brings us life. And today we’re reminded that not only do we strive for perfection in Christ for our growth and salvation, but we also bear the burden of everyone around us watching what we do. It may not be fair, but you know, people judge the Christian Church based on Her members. We’ve heard it a thousand times—Ghandi said he would have converted to Christianity because of the Truth of the teaching of Christ, but he’d never met a Christian who could (or even really tried) to live the life commanded in the Gospel. St. Paul warns us to never do anything that would cause a brother to stumble, even if that thing may be perfectly okay—we abstain if our actions will tempt those around us (Romans 14). We can be (and are called to be) workers with Christ in opening the eyes of the blind around us. Christ tells us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

    We’ll end with some words, some inspiration, from Fr. Vasileos of Mt. Athos about how godly lives impact the people around them:
    You [the Christian] sacrifice the whole of your life, you bind it [in Christ], in order to live its deeper meaning and manifest that meaning, as a blessing…and ultimately to interpret it by your very presence. You go forward with awe towards God, towards yourselves, towards other people and the relationships between you…If you have reached spiritual maturity; if you have attained faith, and an awareness of the power that works of itself and saves man…then your very presence has a beneficial effect on [those around you]… [because of Christ in you] every movement of your soul and body finds a resonance in the [other]…according to the measure in which [you have] sacrificed everything for [God] and for [your brethren]…
    [excerpted from The Health That Conquers Death]

    Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

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