May 21, 2023

First Homily for the Sunday of the Blind Man (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on June 24, 1945)

Today we heard the Gospel story about one of the great miracles of Christ - about the healing of the man born blind (see John 9:1-38). As the man born blind himself said, from time immemorial it has not been seen that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind (see John 9:32). Did you pay attention to how this healed man answered the Pharisees, to his amazing courage and nobility?

He was not at all ashamed before them, who had the power to excommunicate him from the synagogue, speaking without any fear and even reproaching them. How many of us, giving answers to those who have power over us, will be able to behave like this blind man? Most people behave differently. Before the powerful, they stand in awe, they respond cowardly, cunningly and trying to hide the truth, slandering their neighbors, blaming them, and shielding themselves.

There are few people among us with a noble soul. What is spiritual nobility? A person of high and noble soul is always concentrated and silent, never cunning; he is open and bold, not afraid to confess the pure truth before the mighty of this world. He treats his neighbors with generosity, does not exalt himself before anyone, never humiliates another's dignity, is quiet and polite with everyone. He is a stranger to all hypocrisy and cowardice.

People of a low soul are not like that: they are never serious and concentrated, they are always fussy, they constantly insult their neighbors, they are cunning at every step, they are often ready to drown their brothers in order to prolong and strengthen their unworthy existence.

This Gospel narrative ends with extremely deep and important words of Christ. After the blind man worshiped Him as the Son of God, the Lord said: "I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind" (John 9:39). The Pharisees were indignant at these words of Christ and asked Him: "Are we also blind?" (John 9:40). They considered themselves bearers of light and leaders of the people of Israel. How did the Lord answer them? "If you were blind, you would not have sin in you, but as you say you see, the sin remains in you" (John 9:41). Woe to you that you do not realize your blindness!

But how can those who do not see in fact see and those who see become blind? What kind of blindness is the Lord Jesus Christ talking about here? Of course, not about the physical, but about the spiritual. Blind are those who do not see the light - this is physical blindness. What is spiritual blindness? These suffer who do not want to see the True Light, which is the Lord Jesus Christ (see John 1:9-11). Blind are all those who, according to Saint John the Theologian, did not accept Him, who refused to see the true light in Him. Blind are those who close their eyes to the heavenly light of the gospel of Christ. Blind are those who are confident that, possessing scientific knowledge and philosophical profundity, they have known the true light, and they do not want to know any other light.

For those Jews and Pharisees whom the Lord Jesus Christ denounced, the books of the Old Testament were the only light. They rejected the light of Christ, persecuted the Lord, crucified Him and thought that they had extinguished this light. But the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5).

And who are these blind ones, whom the Lord Jesus Christ by His coming made to see? Remember the holy apostles. They were simple fishermen, completely uneducated, had nothing to do with science. For the high priests and Pharisees, who prided themselves on their knowledge, they were in the dark and unseeing. But who more than the holy apostles saw and knew the truth of Christ? They used to be blind, but then they became full of spiritual light and enlightened the whole world with the light of the gospel teaching.

And in all nations there was a huge number of people in darkness, not enlightened by the sciences, who were illumined by the great light of Christ and became seeing, understanding everything, cognized the essence of all things and the true goals and tasks of human life. How did they become seeing from not seeing? The Lord Jesus Christ gave them the power to become children of God. Can the children of God be blind? They know the truth better than anyone, they see the true light.

The Lord came in order to eclipse with His Divine light all vain human wisdom, any artificial sooty light exalted by people full of pride and self-exaltation, believing that with their mind they can comprehend the whole truth. Those who considered themselves to be seeing, the Lord made them not to see. And simple people, having a pure heart, who accepted the holy gospel with full faith, as little children accept the words of their parents, he made them sighted.

This is the word of God through the holy prophet Ezekiel: "Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house" (Ezek. 12:2). This was said about the people of Israel, who continually retreated from the worship of the True God and went to the crooked paths of paganism, rebelling against God, who made them His chosen people, who brought them out of Egyptian captivity. They left their God and worshiped Baal and Astarte. Why did they become blind, ceased to understand the real truth, became deaf to the words of truth? Because they were a rebellious house.

Are there few such rebels in the human race now? Is it not possible to call a rebellious house those who do not want to know the True Light, who prefer not to go the way of Christ, but their own ways. And, according to the prophet, all the rebels are blind and deaf to the truth.

Here is what the holy prophet Isaiah wrote about the spiritually blind: "I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16). That is, the Lord will lead the blind spiritually along a path that they have never thought of, and not the one that they have chosen for themselves, considering themselves to be sighted. What is this darkness that the prophet speaks of? This is the darkness in which people live who do not have spiritual support in a deep faith in God. After all, many who have forgotten God languish in severe spiritual anguish, do not see the meaning of life, because of which some even commit suicide. Their soul is dark. But it is precisely this darkness that the Lord will turn into light, and from their crooked paths He will bring straight paths to their paths. This is the meaning of the Lord's answer to the Pharisees, outraged that He considered them blind.

Let us be afraid of spiritual blindness, let us reach out with all our being towards the True Light. All that is required of us is to give up our own ways that we invent for ourselves, stop arranging life the way we want, acknowledge our blindness and turn to our Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts. May He enlighten our dark hearts. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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