On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Jesus (John 9:1-41) reveals the possible hidden tragedy of self-delusion.
“Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
It is a Word about light and darkness, seeing and being blind, goodness of heart and self-delusion, producing good fruits and being barren.
There is no worse blindness than the one of those who close their eyes; there is no sin worse than the sin of refusing the Light, of resisting the Truth.
Once again, Jesus in our midst reveals himself as Light. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It is therefore in the Light who is Christ that we can assess where we stand at this very moment of our earthly journey.
We might be like the Pharisees in John’s (9:1-41) gospel passage: as far away from the Light as one can possibly be by deceiving ourselves as they, the scholars, the experts, the teachers did.
Paul would say: “You were once darkness.” That is pretty blunt, wouldn’t you agree?
Are we still “darkness?” Let us dare to ask this question!
People who are intentionally closing their eyes to the Truth and to the Light do not get to that sorry condition suddenly, but a bit at the time, as it happened with the Pharisees back then. The most obvious evidence would be any preconceived and biased gauge adopted by the intentionally blind to assess people.
Here are two samples of flowed deductions reached by applying a biased gauge:
“This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” and, “We know that this man (Jesus) is a sinner.”
Something comparable would be dismissing people because they worship in a way different from ours, or don’t pray the way we do, or hold opinions different from ours and so on…
That is simply preposterous. How can we presume to assess what is in someones heart?
Other signs of self-induced blindness would be living without any inner turmoil whenever challenged by God’s Word.
That would take a lot of resisting:
Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (cf. Hebrews 4:12)
So, if we were to ignore God’s Word, think and act as if we had already all the answers, we would be blind due to a foolish, intentional choice of ours.
And that would be a real tragedy.
Another telltale sign would be unwillingness to questions our ideas, our mindset, our way of worshipping, our religious practices, how we relate to God and so on and so forth.
Now, here is the worst part of this tragedy: Jesus could not do anything to change us. And the reason is so simple: because for countless times we would have refused to open our eyes to his Light. Thus, our sin would remain! However, a step closer to Jesus as the Light would be the common situation of having our eyes open, but of stopping at the appearance instead of seeing things as they truly are.
The prophet Samuel suffered from this condition. (1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13) My guess is that most of us are in Samuel’s situation.
In this case, however, Jesus is eager to help us because, like that man born blind we would allow him to enable our eyes to see things and people as God sees them.
How could one describe our condition? In a nutshell, it is evidence of the saying: “out of sight, out of mind.” Our generosity and our empathy are limited because we fail to see Jesus in most people. We do not help the Lord as much as we would like because we do not see Jesus in the really needy nearby and, even less, those who are in mission countries. The fleeting moments when we see some of them on TV, or read about them in the papers, amount to too little to move us to prolonged concrete action. Our condition is also adversely impacted by the world; because it is mainly about appearance, make believe, showing off, dazzling, impressing.
The real values, the things that last into eternity, whatever helps us become Christ-like might have a hard time getting our attention and piquing our interest.
Now, if we found out that there is even a remote possibility that we are living the tragedy of self-delusion, we must hurry to those whom Christ has chosen to continue his ministry of curing, of restoring and of washing us clean, i.e. the ministers of the Sacraments of healing (Reconciliation and Eucharist) and seek them also for some serious counseling.
It could be our last chance ever!
Listen to what Jesus tells us: “I came into the world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Would there be anything more irreversibly tragic than that?
If today we found out that we tend to judge by appearance, and we are distracted by what the world deems important, we have simply to resolutely allow God’s Word to penetrate our minds and hearts.
Even as little as 5 minutes a day might suffice. Jesus, as God’s Word is that powerful! Of course, ideally, we would use those 5 minutes a day to meditate on the readings for the day or of the following Sunday. Assuredly, God’s Word would lead us to look into the recesses of our heart and would keep us from passing judgment on others. Little by little, we would learn to see ourselves and others in the Light; we would see as God Himself sees!