Blindness and Understanding/Comprehension/Right Relationships

Blindness and seeing are a words we use to speak of the ability or inability to understand or comprehend. It is the word we sometimes use to communicate the idea that a person or group has been rendered unable to maintain right relationships with others or effectively participate in life or has experienced a dramatic breakthrough in that realm.

Here are some pieces I came across in my quiet time this morning that amplify this theme of seeing rightly and its role in maintaining right relationships with others.

Book of Tobit 2:9-14.
On the night of Pentecost, after I had buried the dead, I, Tobit, went into my courtyard  to sleep next to the courtyard wall.  My face was uncovered because of the heat.

I did not know there were birds perched on the wall above me, till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts. I went to see some doctors for a cure, but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, the worse the cataracts became, until I could see no more. For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, until he left for Elymais.
At that time my wife Anna worked for hire at weaving cloth, the kind of work women do.

When she sent back the goods to their owners, they would pay her. Late in winter she finished the cloth and sent it back to the owners. They paid her the full salary, and also gave her a young goat for the table.

On entering my house the goat began to bleat. I called to my wife and said: “Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat stolen food!”

But she said to me, “It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.” Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owners. I became very angry with her over this. So she retorted: “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!” (“The Daily Gospel,” June 4)

John 9
[1] As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.
[2] And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
[3] Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.
[4] We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.
[5] As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
[6] As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay,
[7] saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Silo’am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
[8] The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?”
[9] Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.”
[10] They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
[11] He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, `Go to Silo’am and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.”
[12] They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
[13] They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.
[14] Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
[15] The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
[16] Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them.
[17] So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
[18] The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight,
[19] and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
[20] His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
[21] but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.”
[22] His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.
[23] Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”
[24] So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.”
[25] He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
[26] They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
[27] He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?”
[28] And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
[29] We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
[30] The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.
[31] We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
[32] Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind.
[33] If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
[34] They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
[35] Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?”
[36] He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
[37] Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.”
[38] He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him.
[39] Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
[40] Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?”
[41] Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We see,’ your guilt remains. (RSV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; on your own understanding rely not” (Proverbs 3:5).
If all the mountains would move toward you, would you be able to push them back with your hands? You could not. If darkness after darkness of all the mysteries in the heavens and on the earth rushed to the small taper of your understanding would you, with your understanding, be able to illuminate the darkness? Even less! Do not rely on your understanding for, from the perishable matter which you call intellect, a greater portion of it is nothing more than dead ashes. O man, do not rely on your understanding for it is a road over which a mob rushes a hungry, thirsty, motley and curious mob of sensual impressions.

O man, trust in the Lord with all your heart. In Him is understanding without end and all-discerning. The Lord says: “I am understanding; mine is strength” (Proverbs 8:14). He looks on the paths on which your blood flows and all the crossroads on which your thoughts wander. With compassion and love He offers Himself to you as a leader and you rely on your darkened and perishable understanding. Where was your understanding before your birth? Where was your understanding when your body was taking form, when your heart began to beat and flow with blood, when your eyes began to open and when your voice began to flow from your throat? Whose understanding was all this while your mind was still sleeping as charcoal in a coal mine? Even when your understanding awoke, can you enumerate all the illusions which it has delivered to you, all the lies in which it has entangled you, all the dangers which it did not foresee? O my brother, trust only in the Lord with all your heart! Until now, He has rescued you numerous times from your own understanding, from illusions and its lies and from danger in which it has pushed you. A blind man is compared to the man who can see, so is your understanding compared to the understanding of God. O blind one, trust in the Leader. O brother, trust only in the Lord with all your heart.

O Lord, All-seeing, Eternal and Infallible Understanding, deeper than the universe and more radiant than the sun, deliver us, even now from the errors of our understanding. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen (Prologue, June 4)

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