It’s hard to know what to say as I write today, when our world seems to have changed dramatically in the past week, and so much more could change between now and when you read this. I’m sure that many of us are filled with all kinds of questions and emotions as we enter one of the most extraordinary periods of Lenten “fasting” that any of us have known, giving up habits of socializing, travel, going to work, eating out, and even attending Mass.
And yet scripture continues to speak to us—to comfort, challenge, and offer us hope—in extraordinary and routine circumstances alike. This past Sunday’s readings speak of awakening to see as God sees, calling us to be healed of our blindness and live in the light of Christ.
The masterful storytelling of this week’s Gospel weaves together different forms of blindness and sight: not only the literal, physical blindness of the man who Jesus heals, but also the metaphorical blindness of the disciples who assume that sickness and disability are punishment for sin, as well as the blindness of the man’s neighbors and parents, and the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees.
I can picture the willful blindness of the latter being almost comical as the story unfolds: a man blind since birth is suddenly able to see after a stranger rubs mud made of spit on his eyes, and his neighbors are unable to see the miracle (“No, it just looks like him,” they say). His parents are unable to appropriately acknowledge what has happened—Jesus has healed their son!—because they are blinded by their fear of the religious authorities. And when the man is brought to the Pharisees, they are unable to see the reality in front of them because they are blinded by a fixation on legalistic righteousness. I can practically hear the exasperation in the man’s voice as he explains, for at least the third time, that Jesus healed his blindness—“One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see . . . I told you once and you did not listen,” (John 9:25, 27)—and yet the Pharisees are still unable to see.
This story invites us to ask how we, too, may be blind to what God is calling us to see, the miracles that may be taking place before our eyes. Particularly at a time when the path ahead of us is unclear and many people are blinded or paralyzed by ideology and fear, how is God calling us to see past appearances “into the heart” of our reality and the needs of our time? In the weeks ahead and always, may we seek the light of Christ to illuminate our hearts and allow us to see truly in a time of chaos and fear, trusting, like the psalmist, that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil, for God is with us and will be our light.
I leave you with the following prayer, that I hope will bring you light in these difficult times.
A Blessing in Times of Uncertainty
When it feels as if your foundations are being shaken
and the way ahead is dark,
may you feel yourself surrounded and filled by the Love
in which we live and move
and by whom we draw our every breath.
May the Love that moves the sun and other stars
light the path before you–if not the entire journey,
at least your steps today.
And may you know kindness and courage and health
and truth and freedom from all anxiety.
About the Author
Jessica Wrobleski is an Associate with the Congregation of St. Joseph and currently serves as Vice President of Mission at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally from West Virginia, she received her PhD from Yale University in 2009 and has taught and written on theological ethics and spirituality.