“He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God”
It strikes me how often in post Resurrection accounts we hear of sight—recognition—understanding—often in unexpected situations. And so, readings in the Easter liturgical cycle echo this astonishing phenomenon of renewed perception: seeing what has been in front of our noses as if for the first time.
This Sunday’s Gospel story describes someone who couldn’t see from birth, yet once encountering Christ, gained sight. First he saw Jesus; the man who,
rather than spitting at him or slinging mud at him, as others no doubt often did, instead had him accept this dirt on his face and then wash it away. This man first saw a good person and in time understood he had seen the Lord. When we look carefully at both readings from John (1 9-38) and Acts (16 16-34), we too might have a “lightbulb moment” where we glimpse the world through the eyes of Christ. I’d call this seeing with our heart. Ultimately, both readings illuminate the radical, unexpected nature of Christ’s teaching, that when recognized, transforms us and our perception of life. Indeed, perhaps the man born blind symbolizes you and me, unable truly to see the world around us without encountering Christ.
In the eyes of his society, the blind man was inferior; his lack of sight a divine punishment for sin, whether his own or his family’s. In Christ’s eyes, the despised beggar (like me and you) is a conduit for God. With Christ, the indignity others placed on the blind man is washed away, his human dignity illuminated by the “light of the world”.
In Acts, we see a woman slave being exploited by her male owners. Interestingly, her fortune-telling announces the apostles’ mission. A typical view would have applauded free publicity, but Paul “in the name of Christ” silences her prophesying, thereby depriving the slave owners of the profit they made from her predictions. Once again, Christ’s vision turns norms upside down. The “use” of a person exposed and interrupted. When the earthquake strikes open the doors and shackles of the prisoners, we expect Paul and Silas to escape, but they stay in prison, saving the life of their prison guard. Finally, this same guard neither runs nor locks up his prisoners as required. Rather, for the first time in his life through the apostles he meets God, and thus, gains his sight. Evoking Christ’s washing the feet of His disciples’ before eating with them, the jailor washes the wounds of Paul and Silas before bringing them home for a meal: “he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household”. Through the apostles the prison guard sees Christ: his has gained his sight! He and his world are transfigured.
May our vision also be restored. May we know the joy of meeting Christ and seeing through His eyes.
And may others see Him through us.