There was a time, many years ago, when I was graduating from high school that I thought I knew everything about life. Then as I grew older, I realized that at 20 I thought I knew everything, then again at 30 and 40 I always figured, “NOW I know everything!” Now in my 50’s I’m realizing I still have much to learn. What I thought I knew when I was 20, 30, and 40, was just the beginning. I was blind to my own ignorance, and I am thankful to God that He has opened my eyes.
Being blind to our personal ignorance isn’t a sin. Looking back on life, we realize that it is just part of growing up. The more we know, the more we know we don’t know. The same thing is true when it comes to our spiritual journey in Christ. As humanity, we thought we knew about God in the Old Testament, but as the ancient world encountered Him throughout the centuries, we got to know more about Him. Then He came and lived among us, as one of us, and we got to know not just about Him, but to actually know Him by being in communion with Him. It is different to know about someone, than to actually know someone.
In the Gospel for the Sunday of the Blind Man, the sixth Sunday of Pascha, we hear about a man born blind being healed by Jesus. Everyone in the story could not believe their eyes, some even refusing to believe he had been born blind rather than to believe in the miracle. Each example given to us in the story is an example of blindness, some out of ignorance, and some by choice. They had studied the Scriptures, and still refused to believe what they were seeing with their own eyes. In fact the only person not blind in the story was the blind man himself, who according to the scriptures was a constant witness to Christ’s healing power.
Now, more than two thousand years later, many of us are still choosing blindness over belief when it comes to our relationship with God. Many of us are still “in our youthful ignorance” thinking we know everything there is to know about God, and many of us remain blind to His love and healing power. Thankfully, being blind out of ignorance isn’t a sin, but being blind to God’s love by choice will result in our falling away from God. Blindness by choice leads to judgement rather than light.
As we sing at each Divine Liturgy after receiving Holy Communion, “We have seen the Light, the true Light,” today we have a choice to remain in our blindness or to open our eyes and believe in His love, and worship Him. We can no longer remain in our youthful ignorance, but must grow up and accept that we still have much to learn about God’s love in our life and in the life of the Church. We can finally realize that, as St Athanasios said, “God became man, so that man could become divine,” and we could live in total communion with the Creator of the Universe. Or….we can remain in the darkness of our blindness. The choice is ours.