A snake and a rabbit were racing along a pair of intersecting forest pathways one day, when they collided at the intersection. They immediately began to argue with one another as to who was at fault for the mishap. When the snake remarked that he had been blind since birth, and thus should be given additional leeway, the rabbit said that he, too, had been blind since birth. The two animals then forgot about the collision and began commiserating concerning the problems of being blind. The snake said that his greatest regret was the loss of his identity. He had never been able to see his reflection in the water, and for that reason did not know exactly what he looked like, or even what he was. The rabbit declared that he had the same problem. Seeing a way that they could help each other, the rabbit proposed that one feel the other from head to toe, and then try to describe what the other animal was. The snake agreed, and started by winding himself around the rabbit. After a few moments, he announced, "You've got very soft, fuzzy fur, long ears, big rear feet, and a little fuzzy ball for a tail. I think that you must be a bunny rabbit!" The rabbit was much relieved to find his identity, and proceeded to return the favor to the snake. After feeling about the snake's body for a few minutes, he asserted, "Well, you're scaly, you're slimy, you've got beady little eyes, you squirm and slither all the time, and you've got a forked tongue. I think you're a lawyer!"[http://www.kidsjokesoftheday.com/htmls/kids-jokes/Blind-Jokes-for-Kids/20130306174650_232.html]
I kept going back & forth on that one. There are a lot of variations to that story. And we know that lawyers have long been an easy target for jokes. But that’s why I decided to go with it. I have an aunt and a cousin with law degrees, and I know there are attorneys here in church who are good, decent people. That story might have been intended as a knock on lawyers, but I see in it part of the deeper meaning of that little story: that blindness causes us to misunderstand our own identity and that of others; that it causes us to fail to see things as they truly are.
Our Gospel, of course, is about a man blind from birth. In the presence of this man, Jesus declares Himself to be “the light of the world,” He anoints the man’s eyes with this clay that He makes, and has him “wash in the Pool of Siloam—which means Sent.” Through Jesus—the One sent by God to bring lasting salvation to the world—this man gains sight, and thus has a new life in Christ/he is a new creation in Christ. Brothers & sisters, through our baptism, we too were anointed and washed and were given a new life in Christ, a new identity as a beloved son or daughter of God.
Yet our Scriptures today are full of people whose eyes functioned just fine but had all sorts of problems seeing rightly. We would think that the parents of the man born blind would have been ecstatic at his coming to sight, but they were blinded by fear. We would think that the Pharisees, too, would rejoice in this blind guy now being able to see, but they were blinded by their own hang-ups and determination to be right. In our 1st Reading, both Jesse and Samuel are blinded by their assumption that God couldn’t have chosen David to be king just because of his young age.
Brothers & sisters, you and I are called, chosen, and claimed by God. In baptism we were given a share in the “light of Christ” and told to “walk always as children of the light.” Yet, do we still have trouble seeing sometimes? Do we have trouble seeing the life we have in the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit? Does this cause some blindness in how we see ourselves and others, in seeing things as they really are? Are we blinded to our vices and hang-ups? Are we blind to God’s blessings? Are we blind to the ways we try to forge our own way in the world? Are we blinded by pride, envy, cynicism, misunderstanding, doubt, prejudice or fear? Are we blind to where our true value—and that of others—lies?
If we knew that we were blind, wouldn’t we want to see? And how do we see? the same way as for the man born blind: because Jesus reaches in and touches our lives, and we accept this gift and become His disciples and follow His ways. St. Paul tells the Ephesians, “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” May the grace of God give us true vision—to know the hand of God moving in our own lives; and to really be able to see and to be receptive to our neighbors, the members of our family, our co-workers, our classmates, the infirm, and those who are different from us. And let us “Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
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