A Lenten reflection based on John 9.1-41

To a man born blind, Jesus grants power to see. Thus, not a restoration of what had been lost, but first sight. Even more, new vision.

Of what?

That Jesus is the Messiah? No. The man knew nothing of Jesus’ identity, but only what Jesus had done for him.

I think the new vision was…is the truth to which Jesus, in his life and ministry, proclaimed in his first words, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”[1]

A vision of a new, radical age. From the Latin, radix, root or, more poetically, heart.

Not a restoration of what was before. Not the Garden of Eden with its innocence and purity. An age long ago abandoned by humankind in favor of our now characterological sinful selfish self-interest. An age to which we long to return. No. For, like the Garden of Eden, an age of innocence and purity never was.

This new age is radical precisely because it is (can be) perceived with the eyes of hope, of the heart. The eyes of those in every era who, when beholding the suffering of the many and the privilege of the few, refuse to bemoan the way things are, wondering why or to dream of things that are not demanding why not. Rather they see what is, and then behold what is not (the universality of equality) as already come. For the vision is alive and thrives in their hearts.

It is chiefest paradox that only when I know that I am blind can I see the radical vision. For only when I know my need can behold its fulfillment. When blind, I see light. When oppressed, freedom. When sick, healing. When despised, love. When rejected, welcome.

So, too, when I do not know that I am blind – or when I am blinded by the riches of privilege, the freedom to exercise power, wrapped in the mantle, surrounded by the comfortable trappings of the way things are – I do not (cannot) see a new radical vision. For anything radical disturbs the foundations of that state of life called “Status Quo.”

Blessedly, I don’t believe that one must be in grave need to see the vision. One simply has to desire to see it, even when the fear of change, which is both the vision’s promise and its cost, clutches one’s throat.

Thinking of myself, the promise in the cost of my fear is that I am motivated to act. To stand, to serve with the blind, the oppressed, the sick, the despised, the rejected. To strive with them – who but for the grace of God, who but for the circumstances of my birth over which I had no control, could be me – to bring the radical vision of the universality of equality to life and to light.

© 2023 PRA

Illustration: Christ healing the man born blind (c. 1682), Nicolas Colombel (1644-1717)

[1] Matthew 4.17, Mark 1.15

3 thoughts on “Blindsight

  1. Grady Hedgespeth March 19, 2023 — 10:21 am

    Amen. Preach on Brother Paul. Very Buddaesque. Without suffering there is no Enlightenment. May we all see the need (née seek Enlightenment) for a new vision in our very broken world.


  2. Thank you Paul,

    As Grady pointed out, this new vision is surely needed in this broken world!! Whenever I see a homeless person I try to look right at them and recognize that it absolutely COULD BE ME! I may have one more break than day did, OR I avoided one disaster that they couldn’t avoid. I think it’ can be as simple as that! I want to always remind myself how lucky I am so that I never forget how fortunate I am because if I don’t remember I will always be blind.


  3. My dear brother Grady and my dear sister Loretta, yes, let us pray for our (human) ability and willingness to be enlightened so to behold a new vision (which, on immediate second thought, contemplating the Genesis creation story of vulnerable intimacy between God and humankind, is old, as in from the foundations of the world).



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