Christ is Risen! Today is the last Sunday before the Feast of the Ascension, ten days before the Feast of Pentecost. Throughout the Paschal season the Priest holds the lighted three Branch Candlestick symbolic of the light of the Resurrection. We know from attending services during this period that the liturgical texts and hymns resound with the words of light, glory, brightness, radiance, and splendor.
The paschal theme of light is the focal point for this Sunday of the Blind Man. The story of the Blind Man, in the gospel of John 9:1-38, dramatically shows the victory of light over darkness. Jesus Christ, the Light, gives physical light in the eyes of the blind man. Christ also imparts spiritual light to the soul of the healed man who becomes a true son of light.
“The eyes of my soul are blind! I come to You, O Christ, in repentance. I cry out to You as the man born blind; You are the Light above all brightness shining upon those in darkness! (Kontakion Hymn)
The Church Fathers from ancient times, saw the symbolic richness of this gospel lesson. In fact, St. Irenaeus interpreted Jesus’s act of making clay as a symbol of the creation of humanity, now being recreated by the same eternal Word of God, as in Genesis.
The story of the Pool of Siloam (which means “the one sent”), is according to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the symbol of Christ, “whom God sent” to the world. St. John Chrysostom calls Christ the spiritual Siloam and says that Christ, not the waters of Siloam, healed the blind man. The Blessed Augustine states that the blind man symbolizes all of fallen humanity which desperately needs enlightenment. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says the blind man symbolizes the blindness of the Gentile nations, an idea echoed in the hymns of this day.
We have all experienced the beauty and grandeur of Holy Week and Pascha. In the early Church the Gospel Lesson of the Blind Man was usually read to a catechumen who was about to be received into the Church through baptism. It traditionally signified their cleansing from sin and their enlightenment by the Light of Christ. This is why the Holy Mystery of Baptism and Chrismation is often referred to as the illumination.
Thus this Gospel for today further points us in the direction as to the three main kinds of sight. The first is physical sight which enables us to see light, faces, colors and things. The second is mental or intellectual sight, which opens to us the tremendous world of science, medicine, electronics, and computers. The third and most important is spiritual sight, which is the intuitive vision of the inner person by which we come to have personal knowledge of God.
The power of spiritual sight is the power of the Holy Spirit which we will celebrate shortly on the Feast of Pentecost. The fruits of spiritual sight are personal communion with God, true relationships with other human beings and the right use of things in the world.
May the Joy of this Paschal tide be with all of you!
Christ is Risen – Indeed He is Risen!