Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blindness as a metaphor

In the past two weeks I received word about two different persons I know who are going blind. I suspect it has influenced the subject of my thinking if not my thinking.

Jesus heals the blind man on the Sabbath of physical blindness making the Sabbath healings and controversies an easy sermon. These days, we are not the least bit concerned about doing work on the Sabbath.

Did we realize that it was the authorities who were blind because they did not recognize that helping others on the Sabbath is not work? In this instance, blindness is a metaphor with a twist since Jesus is addressing spiritual blindness, not physical blindness. This twist is yet another example of Lucan reversal.

In many of the healing performed by Jesus, he forgives the person's sins. Yet none of the biblical accounts suggest that blindness in general is a punishment for sin. In several instances, blindness is inflicted on a particularly defiant person. Saul, while on the road to Damascus becomes physically blind because he is in fact blind to the truth.

Saul had obtained letters form the High Priest to continue his persecution of the followers of Jesus. Both Saul and the High Priest failed to recognize that they were persecuting Jesus who is the Messiah. Saul was fortunate in that he becomes one of the first people to have a “blind guide” assigned to him for instructional purposes. Saul was also fortunate in that the instructions not only resulted in the removal of his spiritual blindness but also his physical blindness. The High Priest also received “information” from a guide.

The Lucan parable of the blind guides (Lk 6:39-40), and the related sayings that follow it, are about the leader and teacher, not the follower and student. It was apparently very important to the early followers of Jesus that those who instructed prospects be properly taught the Word. These instructors were “blind guides” not because the prospects were physically blind but, because they had not been taught the Word, they were spiritually blind. It is also possible that one on one instruction were necessitated during times of persecution to protect the identity of group members from prospects until such time as the prospects become members. Thus Saul was blinded to protect the identity of members of the followers of Jesus until he had been taught and changed from his violent ways.

While we are so relieved that we are not physically blind, in our joy, we failed to realize our spiritual blindness. Only then will we be able to remove the mote from our own eye.

We are all impaired sinners; we, just like the High Priest, just do not recognize it.

This is a work in progress.

Copyrighted 2008


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