Christ is Risen!
I say that to you for the last time on a Sunday, until next Pascha, because this wonderful and joyous 40 days is coming to an end this week with the feast day of Holy Ascension on Thursday morning.
The magnificence of Pascha: All of the Liturgies, the special Sundays commemorating St. Thomas, the myrhhbearing women, the healing of the paralytic, the Samaritan woman who was thirsting for Christ, and then of course today, the Sunday of the Blind Man… All of these magnificent Sundays of Pascha should have filled our lives with a sense of “newness”, reminding us all that we are possessors of a resurrected life.
All of the Sundays throughout the year are designed to help us live in the truth that everything is different. We no longer have to live in fear or in anger about death because we know that no matter what life throws at us, no matter the difficulties we have to endure, on the last day we will be resurrected in the same way that our Lord was resurrected.
“O Death Where is Thy Sting? O Hell, where is Thy victory? Christ is Risen…and you are overthrown!”
Today we hear in this final Paschal Sunday the tragic story of a man who was born blind. And I say tragic, because being blind is an extremely difficult cross to bear! Imagine going into your yards this past week and being able to feel the warmth of the sun, hear the birds of the air chirp, and smell the fresh cut grass…but never being able to see the light that illuminates all of that beauty as it comes over the horizon…signaling the beginning of a new day.
Today is of course Mother’s day, where we honor and remember the women who nurtured, loved and cared for us since we first came into the world. Imagine going through life having heard our mother’s voice singing us to sleep at night, embracing us when we scraped our knees, and talking to us when we had a difficult day…imagine going through life, never being able to see that sweet face behind that voice.
Physical Blindness is a horrible thing. And this man had to endure it for his entire life. Last night, we heard the pain in his voice through the hymns of Vespers when he said:
“Was I born blind because of my parents’ sins? Or am I living sign of the people’s faithlessness? I am not content to continue asking whether it is nightor day. My feet can no longer endure tripping on the stones. I have seen nothing: neither the sun shining, nor the image of myMaker. But I entreat Thee, O Christ God, look upon me and have mercy on me!”
I remember hearing that last night and thinking about just how much those words pertain to our lives as well. We many not all be physically blind, but all of us suffer from a measure of spiritual blindness which in itself is more detrimentalto us than losing the ability to see the sun rise…or beholding the beauty of the faces that we love.
Although I can think of many examples of spiritual blindness, I wanted to touch on the one that tugged at my heart strings the most from last night. The last sentence in that verse that we just read: “I have seen nothing: neither the sun shining, nor the image of my Maker.” This is perhaps the most tragic form of blindness that we suffer from! It is the same malady that the Pharisees succumbed to in the Gospel lesson this morning: A blindness to God.
The Pharisees watched as a man who suffered throughout his entire life, being unable to see his mother’s face, received his sight for the very first time by our Lord and Savior. Yet despite their eyes beholding the magnificence of God, they remained blind to Who was standing right in front of them!
We shouldn’t be quick to judge the Pharisees in today’s Gospel my beloved, because we are guilty of this every single day. In the fast-paced life that we have created for ourselves, like those Pharisees, our vision so often becomes clouded…and we don’t the time to see and appreciate all the miracles that are happening in our own lives each and every day.
Think for a minute about all of the miracles that God has worked this morning just for us to be sitting down in our Church here in Fenton Michigan! He created systems in our body which allowed us to physically open our eyes, breath in deeply, stretch our bodies, and get ready for the day. We put on our clothes which were made of cotton that came from a shrub in the ground, that God’s creation helped to nurture and grow. We got into our cars that are fueled by gasoline which came from the fossils of extinct marine animals and plants; life which God created long ago. We came to a Church which is adorned with icons that were hand written by people who God blessed with the ability to have their brain, hands, and eyes work together to write beautiful images of saints for us to venerate. Right now, you are listen to a sermon coming from my vocal chords that are vibrating and creating a sound that is traveling to your ear lobes, and in turn vibrating 18000 tiny hair cells which are turning those vibrations into electrical signals that are going into your brains, allowing you to comprehend and “hopefully” understand the message that I am trying to convey this morning!
How often do we think about these things?! God had a hand in creating and designing all of that just so we can be at Liturgy this morning!
We have become so busy in our day to day lives, that we sometimes fall into the trap of walking through life in a complete daze. We spend our time staring either at what is on the ground or what is straight ahead, never stopping to realize that God put our eyes on the tops of our heads so that we can live out our days looking “up” and giving thanks for His Glory and His ultimate love for us.
Every Breath…is a miracle! And what do we say in the Matins Service of the Church just before hearing the Good News in the Gospel Readings? “Let every breath…praise the Lord.” Let this be a reminder to us! As we exit this season of Holy Pascha and enter into the season of Pentecost, like the apostles, let us experience the coming of the Holy Spirit in our own lives…illuminating the darkness and curing our spiritual blindness to God as we course through his existence…and opening our eyes to the understanding of the reality…that God is With Us!