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St Peter’s Church Homilies John 9:41
“Now that you say ‘We see’ your sin remains.” (John 9:41)
The solicitor standing up in court appeared to be at a severe disadvantage: he was blind. The lawyers on the other side thought it would be easy for them; after all the man could not even see. They had all the notes and documents laid out in front of them, every piece of evidence in piles of papers right under their eyes. But they did a lot of fidgeting rummaging through them, often getting confused with the heaps of notes. The blind solicitor was not meddling with wads of paper; there was no point, he was blind: he had done what he had to do, memorised the information so that it was at the front of his mind; thus he was a step ahead of the opposition. In the event being blind gave him a kind of advantage, and he won the case.
Imagine a fire has broken out; the room you are in has filled with smoke, there is another person in the room who is blind. Will not the blind one be better in the crisis than you? When he entered the room he memorised the location of things, noted furniture he touched, created a map in his head of the location of the door and other things. In the smoke he feels his way round the room, while you struggle to see where things are. His blindness becomes an asset, because he knows what to do when he cannot see.
The man in our Gospel was blind, and in a way he remained blind even after Jesus had cured him, but unlike us he knew what it is to be blind. Even
Though he can declare ‘now I see’ he is aware this is so only in a limited way. He still needs to be led and guided, hence he says to Jesus, ‘Tell me who the Son of Man is sir, so that I may believe in him.’
To the great truths of existence each one of us is blind: we cannot see God, nor Angels, nor Heaven, nor the afterlife; even Jesus may seem but an earthly person. We have to be led, trust in another, for in spiritual things we cannot see. The danger is that we will assume that we can see, and come to believe that the bits and pieces we perceive around us are all that there is. Even when we are given the gift of faith, it only tells us that we must be led, as blind people need to be. We have to stumble through life believing that there are unseen powers about us, and hidden agents to help us, challenging us to trust them.
There will come a point, perhaps it is when we die, when we will actually see these presently invisible things. But as of now we dwell in a pitch-dark room waiting for God to switch the light on.