Lent IV: The Lord Does Not See as Mortals See
Saul was dead and Israel needed a new king. Samuel, older and wiser than the young boy who heard the Lord call three times during a special night, heard the Lord call him to anoint the next king. Jesse's sons came to the sacrifice that Samuel prepared. Most of them were strapping men, each were candidates as far as Samuel was concerned. The fact of the matter was, however, that the next king of Israel was God's concern, not Samuel's. Just to remind him, God put this wisdom in Samuel's ear: "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." Ah, to see with the eyes of the heart. 'Don't judge a book by its cover' aside, but it’s what most mortals do. They look with their eyes to the outside, they do not look to the treasures within another human heart and are poorer for their negligence.
The shepherd uses keen eyes (and the keen eyes and ears of herding dogs) to keep the flock together, to stave away danger, to find peaceful passage, water and food. The Good Shepherd does not only these things, but revives the souls of his human flock and in Baptism anoints them as his own forever.
I am an exception to the rule; my eyes adapt readily to dimly lit places or near complete darkness. I was a shoe-in to help kids without flashlights at Girl Scout camp find their way to the outhouse during the new moon. I have to adjust to light, to brightness and high beams. Yet I cannot read, write or sew in the dark. I am still a creature that needs light. In fact during late fall and winter I suffer from lack of light as others with seasonal affective disorder do. We are children of Light and we seek the Light. Even if we adapt, we are not as God, "For to You both day and night are alike"(Psalm 139:12).
The disciples, the Pharisees, the parents of the blind man were just as blind as the blind man himself. In those days there was a semi-karmic line of thought in the theology. You were sick because you or someone before you (possibly generations ago) had sinned. But neither the blind man nor his parents had sinned according to Jewish law. Jesus was trying to dispel the concept that disease was punishment for sin. Disease was disease, and sin was sin.
No one in early times could remedy prenatal blindness; even today with all our technology we are only beginning to tap into potential clues. Then and today we could and can contribute toward many diseases by taking poor care of our bodies through poor sleeping, exercise or dietary habits, poor hygiene, substance or physical abuse. Yes, there are still congenital defects, yet none of which are caused by sin.
Sin on the other hand is the one thing we can do that no one else can do for us. It's ours to enter into or avoid. The consequence of sin is like a block that we -- ourselves -- put between ourselves and our God. Sin has a secondary effect: it is the block we put between ourselves and the rest of the Body of Christ, our sisters and brothers. Put enough blocks together and you've got the basics of a wall -- a wall of our own making.
Jesus had the charisma which brought a yearning, a longing to experience the Light. That could mean to people wanted to lose their physical infirmities or the desire to destroy any barrier of sin they had created. Jesus healed the blind man using the same dust with which the man was made, in a way molding 'new' eyes for him. The blind man with mud encrusted eyes then followed Jesus' directions and made his way feeling for landmarks, the ruts in the dirt path, hearing the familiar voices, thud of pails and splash of water of the pool knelt near it and washed the mud off his eyes. His exterior darkness was pierced by light, fuzzy figures, unimaginable color.
Rather than believe the miracle had occurred, some doubted this was the same blind man. The Pharisees kept asking and man kept assuring them that yes, it was he, the former blind beggar, now able to see. Disbelievers - rather than focusing on the miracle -- felt the need to go by the book. Making a poultice of mud, of course, was work and no work was to be done on the Sabbath. There was a sinner of grievous proportions out there working! They called for witnesses, grilled his parents, wanted to discover the whereabouts of the offender and his destination, get an angle, maybe an artist’s rendition of the "suspect"/criminal/sinner who had broken the Law. Somehow, lost in translation, was the fact that a man who had been unequivocally born blind could now see. A miracle had happened. Yet all of these keen legal minds could not get to the simple truths of the matter which were spelled out by the blind man himself: 'No one evil can do a good thing. I don't know who he was, where he came from or where he went. I know he must be full of holy power because I was blind and now I see.'
That was just about the last straw for the Doctors of the Law. When the 'former' blind man met Jesus again, Jesus revealed himself to the man cured - and the man's sight was now complete. He had not only been given visual sight, but insight only the heart can have: faith.
When the eyes of our hearts are opened, we are able to see God. Then - and only then - do we go beyond mere mortal sight to see as God sees and our world, our lives, our focus and perspective are changed forever.