The blind man
Metropolitan Antony of Sourozh
I should like to draw your attention to two aspects of today’s reading. The first one is that once again the Lord Jesus Christ has performed a miracle on the Sabbath, offending thereby those who kept to the law with strictness and fanaticism. But indeed, it is not to offend that Christ did act so.
God created the world in six days: and on the seventh He rested from His labours, but He committed the world to the charge of man. The whole of history, from the creation of the world to the Second Coming is the hour of man, the hour when man must help the creation to bear fruit, to be fulfilled, to be united to its Maker. Man has failed in his vocation, we have made of the world something ugly and monstrous while we were called to make of it a fulfilment of beauty and of harmony with God, and in itself. But Christ came, the only true man, the only man in perfect harmony with God, the only man who could fulfil the task of man. And His performing of these miracles on a Sabbath day is a call to us to treat History, our day, the day in which we live, as the day which God has committed to our charge, and make of this day the day of the Lord.
Another feature which is not unconnected with the first, is this: when we read in the Gospel of the mighty acts of God, of His preaching, of His miracles, we turn to Him in hope that He will work His wonders on us. And we forget that Christ told us that He gave us an example which we should follow, that what He has done, we should do; and indeed, in His own words, that those who will believe in Him, will do greater things even than those miracles which He had fulfilled. Our vocation is to transfigure this world, thoroughly, but not to be the constant objects of divine care. We, Christians, have made Christianity anaemic, powerless, weak by treating history not as the day of man, but the day when God must lavish upon us, a little flock, His grace, His help and His mercy.
In fact He called us, on the evening of His Resurrection, to go into the world as He came into the world, to go into the world as messengers of love, as messengers of God, and to fulfil our mission as He fulfilled His, at the cost of our lives, pouring our lives for others to live, giving our death, if necessary for others to come to life. We are very far from our vocation; we run to God for help at the very moment when He commands us to sally forth, to move onwards, to be His presence in the world. Saint Paul understood that, when he said, ‘I fulfil in my body, – that is in all his person, soul and flesh, – what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ’. And we are called by Christ to forget ourselves, to turn away from ourselves, because we are the stumbling-block that prevents us from fulfilling our mission – our fear for our body, our fear of moral, of mental agony, our fear of all things which it is our vocation to fulfil.
We are afraid of death, and yet we proclaim that Christ has overcome death: where is our faith? We grieve when someone dies, and yet, we know that death is no more, that there is only a temporary falling asleep while a living soul rejoices face to face with her living God. We must learn to put ourselves on one side, whenever fear, or greed, or anything which is centred in us prevents us from fulfilling our mission, the mission of being the messengers of divine love of divine compassion, of divine truth. We must say to ourselves, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an adversary of God, because thou thinkest not of the things of God’.
If we were truly Christian we could repeat with the Book of Revelation the words of the Spirit and of the Church, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, and come soon’ – and yet, we do not. How many of us long for this coming, long for it, knowing that His coming will mean our death to things of the earth and our awakening face to face with God?..
We are sent to be in the world what Christ has been, and the only reason why we are not, is that we do not deny, reject ourselves in order to fulfil our mission. The blind man met Christ, face to face, Christ healed him. How many around us are blind – not physically blind, but with a blindness more cruel than physical blindness: blind to the meaning of life, blind to love, blind to compassion, blind to everything that could make life into a warfare and a victory. It is for us to go out as Christ went, with forgetfulness of self, taking up our own cross, following Him, because He has said, that if we want to get anywhere, it is Him we must follow. This is a challenge to us. What happened in the days of the flesh, must happen now, that we are the incarnate Body of Christ, and if we are not capable of doing this, we must ask ourselves pertinent, cruel questions and answer them ruthlessly, without mercy to ourselves, and become the Christians which we are to be, which we are called to be Christians in whom people can recognise Christ Himself. Amen.