There are two main kinds of people out there, and perhaps a third category that I will also add. The first group is made up of those who are searching for goodness and look for the light in all things. The second are those who are not searching for goodness and who do not see the light in most things. We have a third group who are the in-between people; they are those we refer to in Nigeria as the “sidon dey look” people—the wait and see people, they stand on the fence.
The first group—those who are searching for goodness and look for the light in all things—are positive about life, they don’t give up easily. They are happy and content not because everything aligns well for them in life, but because they are grateful for every day, and are hopefully trusting God in faith to help them meet the daily challenges of life.
The second group—those who are not searching for goodness and who do not see the light in most things are often negative, pessimistic, skeptical, cynical, judgmental, and critical. They are unhappy and are never satisfied with anything. They often harshly judge themselves and their circumstances negatively and bring the same negative mindset and attitude in the way they look at other people’s circumstances and what is happening around us in the world.
The third group is really like the crowd who engage in the idols of the marketplace. People in this group rarely take any stand on things. They are often overwhelmed about things and just chatter about how things are with people, with the world, the church, politics, and every topic imaginable. The people in this group are neither really sad nor happy because they are still trying to figure things out.
The Gospel for the Scrutiny in today’s Sunday presents us three examples of these three groups of people. I invite you to reflect on where you belong. Each person—and here I am referring to Christians—must take a stand on who Jesus is. Every Christian must make a personal commitment to the Lord based on how you answer these questions: Who is Jesus? What does he represent to you? What does he offer to you? How do you respond to the signs he gives to you in the daily realities of life? Will you see the signs the Lord is revealing to you so as to find fulfillment or will you reject his offer and wallow in darkness, confusion, despair, and sadness?
The blind man in the Gospel represents those who are seeking goodness and search for the light in all things and eventually find the light in Christ. He was born blind and was suffering until Jesus found him and restored his sight. Even though this man endured this condition from his birth to adulthood, it is obvious in the narrative that he was a very positive man with an open mind and was seeking goodness in his own painful circumstances.
In the dialogue with the detractors of Jesus after his healing, the blind man was positive: he affirmed that the work that Jesus did is a great deed; that this deed is of and from God, and that only someone from God could do such works of miracles because “it is unheard of that a person ever opened the eyes of a man born blind.”
The man who was born blind is actually the one who has sight. At the physical level, he may have been blind, but he sees what the Pharisees who were not physically blind could not see because he was responding to the interior light from heaven illuminating the deeper recesses of his life. So, it is actually the Pharisees who were blind. Why? Because they had a darkness within them which they could not admit particularly in the presence of Jesus, the Light of the world, who alone could have healed them of this interior spiritual blindness which darkens their external world.
The detractors of Jesus in the Gospel represent the second group—those who find it hard to see goodness in the world and who are not searching for the light in the world. At the very ordinary level, if someone from my community who was blind from birth had received his or her sight through a miraculous cure, our first reaction would be to rejoice with this person and celebrate the miracle. This was not the case with the Pharisees. They turned the blind man’s healing into a theological, political and ideological debate. In the face of human suffering, they saw camps to be occupied, and not people and persons to be encountered with love and compassion.
Because they hated Jesus and were opposed to his mission, they would not accept the deed of power that had been wrought by the Son of God. And they would not give God praise or allow this good news to be spread in the community because they were opposed to the light. How many people in that community were deprived of the opportunity of receiving healing and miracles from the Lord because these religious and political leaders rejected goodness and light? They indeed were blind and in darkness, because they were incapable of seeing the signs of God’s presence in the person of Jesus.
The third group is the crowd including the disciples and the parents of the blind man who were observing this spectacle but were not yet able to make an affirmation of faith either because they were afraid, or because they were confused or still searching for the truth, the way and the life.
Where do you find yourself in these three kinds of people? Everyone must make a judgment and a response based on what they see happening around them and in the world. Your judgment and response are made based on how you interpret what you see around you? Do you see the finger of God in the present pandemic, in your own trials and tribulations, and in your own high and low moments in life?
The truth is that the Lord Jesus reveals God to us in a unique way and helps us to see things beyond our human and natural perception if we let this light in to illumine us as the blind man did in the Gospel. This is what our faith teaches us.
The whole earth is like God’s burning bush, and each of us is invited to pay attention to the voice of God speaking to us through the signs of the times from this burning bush. Like the blind man, may we be led to the light? Unlike the blind Pharisees, may we be open to the light; and unlike the crowd, may we make a move towards Jesus and affirm him as the Light from God sent to banish the darkness in the world and manifesting to us the face of the God of love, mercy, and compassion.
© Stan Chu Ilo, March 13, 2021.