Wembley Downs Uniting Church
Blindness of the Heart (Terry Quinn) 2.3.2008
Readings: John 9: 1-41
One of the fundamental causes of human suffering, of every kind of violence, of every injustice and every sin, is blindness not physical blindness, but blindness of the spirit, blindness of the heart, as the Bible calls it. Within me and you, within everyone, within all cultures, within all societies, blindness of heart is the fundamental obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom of God.
This wonderful story (in Chapter 9 of John`s Gospel) is like a short play with seven scenes and two main characters the man born blind and Jesus, the Son of Man. Verses 1-7 set the action for the whole chapter a man is healed of blindness by Jesus. The rest of the chapter reports the consequences of this action. Four interrogations follow
*interrogation (questioning) by neighbours * questioning of the man by the Pharisees * questioning of the parents by the Pharisees * further questioning of the man by the Pharisees.
Jesus now seeks out the hurt and confused man and leads him to faith . . .
Jesus explains the purpose of his role in this story: to make the blind come to see, and to declare those who think they can see, blind. Jesus brings spiritual seeing and spiritual blindness out into the light into the open. Thus this great Gospel story reveals Jesus as rescuer from blindness.
Jesus reveals to all those around him including his bewildered disciples, what God is really like that is, the work of God is to treat people equally; to care for the scorned and rejected (the loser); to call all people into a community.
Secondly, Jesus moves to rescue the man from "blindness of heart". Blindness of heart is the inability to see what should be seen. It is one of the most common consequences of deeply rooted injustice in the world. Blindness of heart is the incapacity to see right from wrong. Blindness of heart is a conscience with a disability as I said, the inability to see what should be seen. Yet perhaps most importantly, blindness of heart fails to see what is the right thing to do over and against the wrong thing that is done before our very eyes. As examples I would say * our treatment of the working poor * our treatment of people with mental disabilities * our lack of protection of human life from conception to death * our lack of care of asylum seekers and refugees * our lack of protection of indigenous children and young people.
This blindness is a cumulative process: little by little negligence and eventual disregard of the worth-ship of God and of the value and equality of every person those close to us and those far from us. This cumulative process can be very hard to discern because it is gradual and slowly becomes socially, politically and religiously accepted. It is a kind of reverse evangelism and it leads to places where there is no more light, no more discernment.
It is no accident, therefore, that the symbol of salvation (of rescue) of Jesus, apart from the symbol of life, used most frequently in the Gospel of John is that of light - Jesus the anointed one, (Christos), is the only one who can cure our personal and collective blindness. In Revelation 3:18, the message to the church at Laodicea is: Buy from me ointment to anoint your eyes that you may see.
The man born blind, cured of his physical blindness, came out of his spiritual blindness only after a long painful process. He could see Jesus all right, but he could not see the Son of Man the Human One he could not see the real light which gives light to everyone who comes into this world.
In the story, the man is prepared for a second, more profound encounter with Christ. With the cross of humiliation comes the light of faith. This story tells us that there are two things which open our eyes to our own reality according to God`s plan. The first thing is prayer "Who is the Son of Man, Lord, that I may believe in him?" And the second thing is pain and humiliation this is as necessary as prayer in our lives because our spiritual blindness is deep rooted and is found in our unconscious arrogance and egotism. The only way to root these things out of our life and come to the "light of life" is by way of suffering and humiliation.
Let us call a spade a spade. The powerful of the earth "not the poor of the earth" and the dominant groups are the most grievously blind and they transmit their spiritual blindness through their leadership. Small congregations, therefore, like ours, must commit themselves to announcing the light of Christ and to denouncing all forms of blindness of heart in the world. Conversion to Jesus, the journey from blindness to sight, is the most wonderful, painful, joyful, humbling, tiring, thrilling, adventurous, intellectually stimulating, soul satisfying, challenging, warm, open hearted and matchless journey you will ever make in your precious God given life . . .
Who is he that I may believe in him? Jesus said to him, It is he who is speaking to you now.
130 Calais Road, (crnr of Minibah Street)
Wembley Downs, Western Australia.
Phone 08 9245 2882
Ten kilometres northwest of Perth city centre,
set amongst the suburbs of City Beach, Churchlands, Scarborough, Wembley Downs and Woodlands