HE INCIDENT in today’s Gospel about the man being blind from birth reminds me of one of the first courses we studied when we began our four years of theology in Oldenburg, IN. The course was called ‘Apologetics’ and was taught by Fr. Lambert Brockman, OFM a Franciscan who was one of the wisest men I ever met. I make a distinction here between being wise and being knowledgeable. He had insights that showed real wisdom, which had to be a gift from the Holy Spirit.
Briefly stated the study of Apologetics was a branch of Christian theology which attempts to give a rational defense to the Christian Faith. It may be summed up by saying that Christ claimed He was God; Christ proved the truth of His statement by the miracles that He worked. Therefore what Christ said was true. The Catholic Church is the only Church that can trace its origins back to the time of Christ. Therefore the Catholic Church is the Church which Christ founded. Needless to say this is a simplified version of what we studied in this course.
Fr. Lambert particularly liked the miracle in today’s Gospel because it showed our Lord’s enemies trying to disprove its super-naturalness. They went from one ridiculous position to another. First they tried to say, “Well, maybe this man wasn’t really blind from birth after all.” And so they go and ask him if he is the one who was blind from birth, or was it maybe someone else. And he assures them that he is the one. And that it was this man named Jesus who cured him. And so they go to the parents. The parents have the same story, namely, that he is their son and that he was blind from birth. But they are starting to get somewhat nervous in all of this. They know that the Pharisees don’t like Jesus and are out to get Him. They don’t want to get in trouble with them either. And so, they try to ease out of the situation by saying, “well, he’s our son alright. But he’s old enough. Ask him.” Already the community had agreed that if anyone said Jesus was a prophet they would be expelled from the synagogue or ostracized.
What we have in the Pharisees is simply refusal to believe. Their minds were made up. They had no use for this Jesus and they were out to get him. But let’s face it. Our concentration should not be on what other people did or are doing now. They were certainly suffering from what spiritual writers call ‘spiritual blindness’. Now the question should be: “Are there any areas in my life where I am suffering from spiritual blindness?” Another way of asking this would be: Are there any areas where I am rationalizing, that is, trying to justify something I am doing that is wrong, but trying to tell myself it is alright? And we might give this just a little different tweak by saying, “Is there something more I could be doing, but am not?” Think of your final judgment day. Would there be some things that you would wish you had done that you haven’t done? As I have said before: “You are going to get a lot more in eternity for a Holy Hour spent in Church than you are going to get for an hour spent in watching television.” It is somewhat of a spiritual blindness which keeps us from seeing things in this way.
In the Epistle Reading St. Paul tells the Ephesians that they were once darkness, but now they are children of light. Light produces every kind of goodness, righteousness and truth. A simple way of saying this would be to say, if we truly see we will clearly see what is the next right thing to do and will do it. In my opinion that is doing the will of God.
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.