The Gift of Sight
By Dennis S. Hankins
And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.”
A colleague of mine recently was fitted with bi-focal contact lenses. When she arrived at work recently her face was beaming like a child’s face on Christmas morning. Amelia exclaimed, “I can see! I can see you! I can see her!” And looking at her computer she continued, “And I can see that!” It wasn’t hard to appreciate the joy my co-worker exuded. The gift of sight is truly a cause for joy.
I remember when our son, Timothy, was diagnosed with amblyopia in his left eye. We were grateful that a simple eye test at grade school helped us to know our son needed to see an eye doctor. Timothy was fitted for glasses to help him see better. But to correct the lazy eye, we placed tape over the good eye lens to make the lazy eye work. It was an arduous time for him and for us. In time, and I mean years later, Timothy’s lazy eye went from 20/200 to about 20/30. His eyes require a different prescription for each eye to balance out his field of vision. Timothy’s vision needs were caught early on. And with proper therapy and eye glass prescriptions his eyes and vision are fine. The gift of sight is truly a gift we don’t want to take for granted.
My papa Seibert’s glasses were thick like the bottom of the old fashioned coca-cola bottles. His eyes frightened me when I was little shaver. When I sat on his lap I would look into his eyes. Through those thick lenses papa’s eyes looked like they were huge and floating. I remember that papa struggled with his eye sight. The imperfections of his vision, however, did not cloud his insight about Jesus and his love. I remember the moving way he would testify in church when I was a little boy. It’s my understanding that in heaven eyeglasses and corrective contacts are not needed. The gift of sight will be perfected there.
We read in scripture that the first will be last and the last will be first in the kingdom of heaven. I think that means that those who bore physical imperfections in this life will get to go to the head of the line to get their new bodies. In the first reading the exiles of the Northern Kingdom of Israel are returning to their homeland. The blind and the lame gathered from the ends of the earth and the mothers with child lead the rejoicing throng back home. It is a picture of our own journey home. After this our exile we pray that Mary will show to us the fruit of her womb, Jesus. And among the first to see the love light in His eyes will be those who saw him first by faith in spite of blindness or deformities or missing limbs.
The Psalm reading today is filled with indefinable joy. Those who have had little to be joyful about will have a new morning. A new day of rejoicing is promised to those who have lived in tears. On that day many will come from the despairs of this life to see first hand the joy that comes with the first early rays of the Son rising with healing in his wings. Then will our mouths be filled with laughter and our tongues liberated to sing his praise. And those who have sown in tears shall rejoice and the weak and the halt and the blind and the lame will lead all of us in the never ending praise of God!
Jesus challenged those in his day who refused to see, who rejected his offer of a true vision of God. He indicted those who listened but whose ears were dull and whose hearts were cold and withdrawn. Their blindness was darker than a million midnights. But he gave to those who believed in him the gift of spiritual eyes. Near the time of the Passion of Jesus some Greeks came to Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” I have heard many testify through the years how they long to see Jesus. We long to see the One who out of his boundless love for us died on that old rugged Cross. This is a universal Christian hope.
Thomas exclaimed after seeing and touching the wounds in the hands and side of Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” And Jesus replied, “Thomas, have you believed because you have seen me?” Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” In his first Epistle, St. Peter confirms the faith of those who became Christians after the Ascension of Jesus. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he says, “Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.”
Our high Priest is our Lord, Jesus Christ. As our Priest He is aware of our bodily imperfections and weaknesses. He understands our failures and our limitations. He knows we have blind spots. As he entered into Jericho 2000 years ago a blind man shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It was an affirmation of Jesus as Messiah. In his blindness he saw better who Jesus was than many with perfect vision. He had lived many years in physical darkness. But in those years of physical blindness he contemplated the promises of a coming Messiah. And on that sunny afternoon, Jesus gave him what he asked of him. Blind Bartimaeus received the gift of sight. And he used his gift of sight to follow Jesus. Such was the appreciation he had for his new gift of sight.
The eyes of faith is our gift of sight. We see by faith the Savior of our soul. The wonders of our redemption and the riches of mercy from His spear pierced side are visible to the eyes of our soul. We know Christ by faith; not by our natural vision. May our vision of Him be clear and uncluttered. May we accept the invitation to gaze upon him in prayer – more often than not! May Jesus heal us wherever we are blind to his Love. Let us dare to ask Jesus to help us see him better. Especially in the Eucharist we are invited to look upon the precious Lamb of God. The priest proclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” At that moment may each of us remember, “I once was blind, but now I see.”
Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and Forever! Amen.