Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from his birth.”
Today, the Church commemorates the healing of a blind man by our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. But, this is no ordinary blind man (if we dare even suggest there is such an ordinariness or normalcy!). He is a man who has been blind from birth. He was born that way. He’s never known or seen colors or shapes. He’s not beheld beauty nor has he ever seen ugliness. He’s no doubt heard others describing various sights, but how do you form an image or make a comparison when you have nothing to compare it to or with; no recollection or memory of such a thing?
Jesus heals the man, as some Fathers suggest, by forming in his eye sockets the eyes made blind by sin and death. No, it was not because his parents had sinned or that he had somehow sinned while in utero causing his birth defect. But, The Fall brought about a great effect upon all of creation. Man falls and the earth suffers the effects of The Fall (Gn. 3:14-21). Man falls and the reverberations are felt throughout all the cosmos! Creation itself is in bondage because of man’s fall into sin and death, groaning beneath the great weight foisted upon it by the very one charged by God to stand in its midst as a priest and to guard and tend the sacred sanctuary (Rm. 8:18-23). DNA, once whole and healthy in Eden, now becomes corrupted, leaving some normal and healthy insofar as healthy can be on this side of brokenness. Others, like this blind man today, are malformed or unformed in the womb. Still others are deformed or rendered deformed by accidents or other causes. Sin and death, as corrupting powers, have influenced and infected all of creation. Our Lord is not suggesting that this man nor his parents aren’t sinners. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rm. 3:23). But, He is saying that this man’s plight and condition is not the result of some in utero sin he committed prior to being born nor of any specific sin committed by his parents that may have caused his blindness. No, but rather quite plainly, it is a cold, hard fact of reality in this fallen world. And this seeming inequity causes some to blame God or to see Him as impotent, uncaring, or as a mean-spirited deity. Certainly, there has got to be a reason for this man’s blindness from birth. Someone has to be held accountable; something has got to be blamed! But, as our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who is utter mercy and compassion, tells His Disciples so that we can overhear His answer, these things – as irredeemable as they appear to us – can and do redound to the glory of God (Rm. 5:1-11; 8:28-39; 2 Cr. 4:7-5:10). Jesus tells us this again as He goes to raise His beloved friend, Lazarus, from his four-days-in-the-tomb. “’This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, . . . .,’” He declares (Jn. 11:4). God is not rendered impotent by them. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God to those who believe in His providence, even as the Apostle, St. Paul, bore witness to as he lived with his unresolved thorn in the flesh (Mk. 9:23; Rm. 8:28-39; 2 Cr. 12:7-10).
Jesus heals the man. But, the man does not see Him. He only knows that a Man called Jesus healed him by doing something so simple and literally down-to-earth as applying a mud pack made from divine spittle to his eyes. All he had to do, then, was to obey the Word of God to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. Now, what would have happened had the man stopped at another body of water along the way, one perhaps closer at hand than the pool of Siloam? The indication is that he would not have been healed. Salvation and healing (the two are related in the Greek) is particular. There are no generic substitutions for the brand name medication. The man was sent to the pool called “’Sent’” and to no other. He wasn’t sent to the Jordan; he wasn’t sent to the Sea of Galilee (4 Kg. [2 Kg.] 5:1-14). He wasn’t sent to Jacob’s well nor to the pool by the Sheep Gate such as was the case with last Sunday’s paralytic (Jn. 5:1-15). He was sent by divine directive to the pool of water called Siloam. There, and no place else, he was to wash, and there by the washing of his eyes in the obedience of faith, in those sanctified waters he would find his sight, which is precisely what he told his detractors repeatedly and consistently, “’A Man Who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, “Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.” And I went and washed, and I received sight.’”
There is salvation in no other. “’For there is no other Name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved’” (Ac. 4:12). “’Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” “’I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And [the spirit of divination] came out that very hour” (Ac. 16:16-34). Again and again, throughout the Book of Acts we hear this particularity, “In the Name of Jesus Christ” salvation and healing comes (Ac. 2:38; 3:6; 8:12). It is this very Name the high priest and those with him try in vain to squelch, strictly commanding the Apostles to cease and desist their teaching in this Name (Ac. 5:17-40). Salvation – the healing of soul and body – is very particular, found only in Jesus Christ, in a particular Person, and in a particular place – the Body of Jesus Christ – the Church. Jesus Christ is, in fact, the only “Sent One” and His Church, “which is His Body,” says St. Paul, “the fullness of Him Who fills all in all” (Ep. 1:23), is the pool named “Sent.” Here, in the Church where the Name of Jesus Christ tabernacles, the Mysteries inaugurated in our Lord’s Great and Holy Passion, Death, Burial Resurrection, and Ascension, are to be found and applied to the healing of soul and body. “’Dost thou believe in the Son of God?’” And, like the eunuch of Ethiopia who desired to be baptized after Jesus had been preached to him, the Deacon, Philip, said to him, “’If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest [be baptized].’ And [the eunuch] answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Ac. 8:26-39). St. Paul tells us elsewhere
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . . For ‘whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Is. 28:16; Jl. 2:32; Rm. 10:9-13).
This particularity is no doubt offensive in an age smitten with itself, deluded by the gods of diversity, equality, and inclusivity (DEI). Our Lord made this point to the future St. Photini in last Sunday’s Gospel of the Samaritan woman by the well. Responding to her question about the right worship of God, our Lord lovingly but firmly replied, “’You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.’” Ultimately, salvation is of the Jew named Jesus and none other (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-38). He is “indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world’” (Jn. 4:5-42). Having condescended to become flesh and humbled Himself unto obedience, even to the death of the Cross, St. Paul exults in God’s particularity,
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Pp. 2:5-11).
Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ healed the man born blind. All he knew was that a Jesus healed him. The acts of divine mercy and compassion bestowed upon him, though unearned and unmerited “(for we have done nothing good upon the earth),” confirm for the man his experience of Jesus the Saviour and Physician, and reveal Jesus Christ (St. Basil’s Divine Liturgy). “’One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.’” “Once I was lost, but now am found; was dead, but now am alive” (Lk. 15:11-32). This man, theologically unsophisticated and uneducated, knew more theology than all the religious leaders interrogating him combined (Ac. 4:13)! And, it was all because he listened to Jesus Christ, the Word of God. He had faith in Him, sight unseen, and obeyed His divine command, “’Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.’” He doesn’t question why he had been born blind. He doesn’t lament his condition nor begrudge God. Those things, though quite natural, ultimately, however, are unproductive, if not destructive, spiritually. The response of a father I read about recently is well worth our pondering. Acutely stricken by an incurable disease, his daughter questioned “Why? Why my dad? Why him?”. His reply to her, she confessed, changed her whole outlook and perspective, and turned her around. He simply said to her, “Why not me?” That’s all. And it changed her completely.
The man blind from birth marvels that, of all people, he has been saved! He has been healed! Through his malady he came to faith in Jesus Christ and, being compelled to “defend” himself against his antagonists, his faith increased and was strengthened. He does not hesitate one iota when the Great Physician and Healer of souls and bodies invites him now to see and to confess Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Lord, “’Lord, I believe!,’” coming to the same certainty as the skeptic Thomas, “’My Lord and my God!’” (Jn. 20:28).
Beloved in the Lord, the Church has long seen here a pattern and a type for Baptism. It is only after our Baptism into Jesus Christ that we can hope to see clearly the handiworks of God and to marvel in faith at all we could not and did not see beforehand. So often, we turn things around and put the emphasis on us – our abilities, our intellect, our understanding – instead of on God and His actions before all else. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, even as He declares here boldly. He is the Light no darkness can overcome or comprehend (Jn. 1:4-5; 8). He is God and in Him is no darkness at all – nor can ever be – because God is absolute light (1 Jn. 1:5). And, if we walk in the light of Jesus Christ, we walk not in darkness but in the Light of God and have communion with Him, even the remission of our sins (Jn. 8:12; 1 Jn. 1:6-7).
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He brings His saving and healing Light into our sin-darkened, death-filled lives. But, we must first surrender to Him, listen to His voice in the midst of our blindness, give ourselves over to Him even though we can’t see, yield our life and our death to Him in the obedience of faith so that His Light and His Life might pierce our darkness and shatter it! We are baptized with the water of Illumination, not because we have seen the Light, but in order to see it. We go to the pool to be healed. We go to the pool because we have been sent there, and there in the washing we receive our sight, whether we are baptized as adults or as infants – the objective work is God’s. The Mysteries of the Church emphasize the actions of God to which we are ever responding in order to receive the grace promised, in order to be enlightened, in order to have our spiritual eyes opened. We grow up into the Faith so that we are ever increasing in the knowledge of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and growing in His grace, “till we all come to the unity of the Faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ep. 4:13-16; 2 Pe. 3:18).
And the man once blind worshipped Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Light of the world. This is where it all leads.
Beloved, our Lord has taught us,
‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the Light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, that you may become sons of Light’ (Jn. 12:35-36; 1 Th. 5:5).
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!