Sunday, 30 March 2014

4th Sunday in Lent-Br. Simeon

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order

Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday 30th March 2014

Gospel:  John 9:1-41

“Blind but now I see!”

Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may serve you now and always. Amen.

Many of us have trouble with our eyes. If you're around long enough you may need a pair of reading glasses. And while medical advances and the use of laser surgery have made many advances, disease and dysfunction of the eye is something no one wants to see.

But most of us have never been blind. And most of us never will be. Maybe you can imagine it by being blind-folded. Or as you fumble around in the middle of the night. But true blindness – not being able to see at all – we may have a slight chance of it by accident or disease, but at least we weren't born blind, like the man in our Gospel reading. Or were we?

I don't have to tell you that physical blindness is an apt metaphor for being spiritually blind. In fact, in our Sundays of Lent  thus far the readings have been, the Invitation, the Transfiguration.  Last week we heard of the woman at the well, whose eyes were also opened by Jesus, and now the man born blind, whom Jesus heals.  As we ponder blindness and sight, sin and forgiveness today, let's also remember that after we are no longer infants, we start to become spiritually blind.

What causes spiritual blindness you may ask.  Well I did some scouting through the scriptures,and here are a few that I picked out what causes spiritual blindness. They are:

1)To be spiritually blind is not to be able to see Christ, and not to see Christ is not to see God.  Colossians 1:15-16; 2 Corinthians 4:6
2)Those who reject Christ are the lost.  John 6:68-69
3)Choosing not to accept the teachings of Christ and his authority in their lives. Matthew 28:18

But... there is hope for those who turn to God.

Like the lyrics to that favourite hymn, Amazing Grace, there is my favourite part, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see”.

The disciples saw the man who was born blind, and they wanted to know why such a thing would happen. They assumed that his blindness was a punishment for a particular sin. But they weren't sure whether he himself, or his parents were to blame.

When Jesus says, “it was not this man who sinned or his parents” he doesn't mean to suggest that the blind man or his parents were perfect and holy. Jesus is trying to correct their reasoning that bad things happen to bad people (and therefore since I am relatively healthy, I must be relatively good). Bullocks!. We are all sinners alike, subject to the sometimes fickle effects of sin and death in our world. Throughout the New Testament Jesus repudiates this kind of “you must have deserved that” gloating from pride-filled observers.

Perhaps the disciples were blind to their own blindness. Perhaps they were so focused on this man and wondering what his sin was that they couldn't recall their own. Indeed, Jesus tells us to watch out for logs in our eyes.

But if the disciples had a log in their eye, the Pharisees must have had whole trees. They too, ironically, were blind to the truth. They couldn't see how someone who broke their man-made rules of Sabbath could possibly be one sent from God.

So they interrogate the formerly-blind man. One day soon, they would put the Lord himself on trial. In both cases they were blind to the evidence before them. This Jesus was no mere man, no sinner (unlike the Pharisees), but he was and is the Son of God. They were blind. And only later would some of them see.

The authorities tried to get the formerly blind man to say that Jesus was a sinner, but he replied: “I don’t know whether he’s a sinner or not. All I know is that I once was blind, but now, I see.

And what of us? Are we the Pharisees? Too proud or stuck in our ways to see Christ for who he is? Too unwilling to hear him for what he says? Or are we once-blind men and women who appreciate the healing he has wrought? For he would come and open our blind eyes. He would first have us see that we are blind – in need of his healing. So we confess our sins. But he would also wash us clean, not in the pool of Siloam, but in the waters of Baptism. He would have us as his disciples. He would have us confess him before men, and we do.

For we have seen – not with our eyes, but with the eyes of faith. When we hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the scales fall from our eyes. Our hearts are regenerated, and forgiveness washes over us anew. Like Saint Paul, who was struck blind on the road to Damascus – we must first be struck by the law, see our sin, see our blindness.

Only then does God bring sight. And this sight goes beyond what is seen, for faith has to do with what is unseen. It is the assurance of such things, a rock-solid foundation of trust in God's promises. It sees cleansing of sin in simple
baptismal water. It sees Christ's body and blood in humble bread and wine. Faith hears a pastor say, “I forgive you your sins in the name of Christ”, and faith knows it is as if Christ said it himself.

Are we blind? Not physically, but spiritually we are. The question is, are you blind to your sin? If you see it, then turn your eyes also to the cross. And there see the answer to such blindness. For in that ugly vision of an innocent man, bloodied and beaten and scorned and rejected and thirsting and dying. There is God's love for sinners, like you and me. There is a sight for sore eyes, Jesus the Saviour. And his death opens our eyes. And his open grave opens our grave. And his life forever is our life for evermore. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.