This weekend we are once again being reminded to be the light for others, to lift the darkness from their lives, as well as our own. We are also asked to not be too quick to judge others simply by appearances, but rather to remove our blinders and truly see. This very theme is echoed in the readings and the Gospel.
We see how Samuel immediately believes that one of the men present is most definitely the “chosen one,” who is to go forth and rule. He makes this assumption based on the young man’s stature, appearance, and age. Yet David, the youngest of all of Jesse’s sons, is chosen — a young man, whom even his father most likely felt was too young to even be considered to rule God’s people, leaving him to tend to the flock in the field. In both circumstances, judgement and preconceived notions led to their decisions. God reminded Samuel, as He reminds us, not to be fooled by mere appearance or stature, and that God sees beyond our physical trappings, recognizing the person by his or her heart.
In the Gospel, we see how the Pharisees are quick to condemn Jesus, how they claim that only a sinner would heal someone or do any kind of “work” on a Sabbath, which clearly proves He is not a man of God. Throughout history we have seen how people blindly follow the charismatic leader — the person who looks, sounds, and acts like a leader, or buy into the misconceptions or distortions of truth. Yet these individuals have led many people to harm their fellow man, to condemn those who do not fit in, and to even kill or die for the cause or misguided belief. It is this point that Jesus speaks of when He tells the healed man that He has come to help the blind see, and to blind those who see in misguided ways.
In the second reading, St. Paul implores us to “live as children of light.” He is telling us to be the light, to put an end to injustice, corruption, and all the “fruitless works of darkness.” When we become the light, we begin to truly see what is happening around us, what needs to be taken care of, and who needs help finding their way. By being the light, we expose the wrongs, we affect change, and we become hope in a weary world. So not only do we dispel the darkness, we also gain clarity, and it is this newly-gained “sight” that begins to propel us to make changes — in ourselves, others, and our world.
Yet, like the Pharisees, so many of us believe we have perfect vision and do not need healing — we are not blind. But this “sight” that we hear of in the Gospel is more than just ordinary sight, it is the ability to “see” with the eyes of faith. It is to open not only our eyes, but our hearts as well. To see with eyes of faith is to recognize Christ in each and every one we encounter. It is to look at individuals as God looks at them, to see with our hearts, rather than our preconceived ideology of what they should look like and how they should act. Sadly, we live in a world that readily passes judgment and determines whether someone is “worthy” or “acceptable,” by their appearance or actions. Rather than recognize the child of God, we quickly pass judgment on those who are less fortunate — the homeless, those struggling with mental illness or addiction, immigrants who are seeking a new home far from oppression and hate, and any others who simply do not fit in with our ideal of what we consider to be “appropriate.”
However, if we learn to see with our hearts, if we allow ourselves to be “healed” as the blind man was healed, we can truly begin to see. It is in our blindness that we allow so much that is wrong in the world to continue. Yes, sometimes it is much easier to remain blind — it keeps us from getting involved or making a difference. However, we are challenged to be anything but blind — to have faith, to believe, and to help others come to believe and grow in faith and truth. We are called to be the Samuels of this world, who rather than follow our first impressions, wait on the prompting of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to rush upon us as it did for David. We are called to be the light dispelling the “darkness” and all that it conceals, bringing about goodness and justice to an otherwise, discouraged world. We are called to allow ourselves to be “healed” of our own blindness and to truly recognize the “Son of Man” in everyone we meet.
During this Lenten season, let us allow ourselves to be fully healed, to lift the blinders that keep us from seeing the need in our fellow man, and to be the light that produces “goodness and righteousness.” May the truth “wash away” that which blinds us!
Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Fall River and works for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org