This past week, the whole world experienced an unprecedented level of trial and tribulation similar to world war-like conditions.
The number of cases of coronavirus worldwide has surpassed 300,000. The total deaths globally is more than 13,000. And these are increasing by the day.
Almost all countries went into lockdown closing all schools, shops, offices, pubs, and churches due to the pandemic. This has put to a sudden stop all our normal activities–work, leisure, socials even religious. Many suffered hunger and physical deprivations because no work meant no money to buy food and other essential things.
As we retreated from our daily activities, however, we had ample time to look back and take a stock into our lives as individuals and global community.
Indeed, the pandemic is a humbling experience for us. As tragic as it may seem, the pandemic may have led us to our own shortcoming and blindness. We realize how we have endangered the lives of our fellow human beings and mother nature by our wanton exploitation of nature and an unsustainable lifestyle. One of the major calling out of this pandemic is healing–the healing of broken nature and lives as well as the healing of our own blindness.
Our readings for today’s 4th Sunday of Lent talks about seeing which is not just physical seeing but more profoundly spiritual seeing. In the same way, blindness is not just physical blindness but spiritual blindness. The seeing that our readings talk about is the seeing given to us by God which gives us a new vision beyond our own blindness.
In the first reading from the book of Samuel, the prophet Samuel comes to Bethlehem, by the order of the Lord, to choose a new king from the family of Jesse. Samuel rejects Jesse’s oldest son, supposedly by tradition the one who is to be the king, Samue’s reason, God sees beyond the physical attributes of a person:
“Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”
In the second reading, St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, calls all the baptized as children of light. When we were baptized God has given us a new way of seeing which led us to live from darkness into light:
Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
In our Gospel, Jesus gave depth of sight to a man born blind. Jesus restored not just his physical eyesight; his heart had also been healed. The blind man came to belive in Jesus and became a disciple and messenger of Jesus.
Faith in Jesus gives us a new vision. The New Testament use sight as a symbol for Christian faith. Believing is the deepest kind of “seeing.” The early Church called baptism enlightenment. It is not incidental that the first word out of Jesus’ mouth in the Synoptic Gospels is “metanoia” which means a new way of thinking. Faith is believing which inaugurates a new way of seeing and thinking.
Like the blind man in the gospel, we are all blind. Although we are not blind physically, we have close our eyes to the suffering of our fellow human beings and of mother nature. We suffer from spiritual blindness because we do not go beyond our physical sight and our own needs and myophic viewpoint. Let us pray to Jesus then that he may have our eyes opened so we may learn to see the world as God sees it.
Like Lent, this pandemic will lead us to resurrection if we allow our faith in Jesus to help us see more clearly beyond our past mistakes and failures. We can rise up from this pandemic if we see Jesus at the center of this pandemic. We will emerge victorious from this pandemic if we encounter Jesus and experience his healing power out of our blindness. He will give us a new vision that will help us to live in greater harmony with nature and solidarity with our fellow human beings especially the poor and the downtrodden.