1 Sam 16:1, 6-7, 10-13 / Ephesians 5:8-14 / John 9:1-41
It is not often that we are asked to describe ourselves.
Probably the few occasions that we will be asked to describe ourselves are at group ice-breaking dynamics where we are asked to introduce ourselves.
To describe ourselves would be relatively easy. At least we should be able to describe ourselves with sentences beginning with “I am …”
We can begin with something obvious like: I am Chinese; I am medium-built; I am an executive. Or we can say what we have: I have short hair; I have brown eyes, etc.
But of course we won’t describe what is obvious about ourselves, or what is often taken for granted, e.g. I can see, I can hear, I can talk, I can walk. These don’t seem to be like such a big deal.
But for the blind man in today’s gospel, if he were asked to describe himself, he would probably begin with: I am blind.
It was obvious enough. It was his impediment. And for some, it was some sort of curse that he was born blind.
At least that was what the disciples thought when they asked Jesus: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?
It seems that when things go wrong, or when something bad happens, there is this tendency to put the blame on someone.
A story goes that a man bumped heavily onto another man on the street, and so he asked angrily, “Why don’t you look where you are going?” The other man retorted, “Then why don’t you go where you are looking?”
So, is it to look where you are going, or to go where you are looking? Is it the same? Or is there a difference?
If we were to look where we are going, and go where we are looking, then there will certainly be less accidents.
The blind man in today’s gospel had his eyes opened and he could see. More than just being able to see, he could also look deeper into his experience of being healed of his blindness.
While others were squabbling over what Jesus did on the Sabbath day, the man has this to say: I only know I was blind but now I see.
And he was clear about the whole matter when he said this of Jesus: If this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing.
So although we can see, do we see with clarity about the events of our lives, and more so to see Jesus present in those events of our lives?
We may remember the attack on the Twin Towers , the event that is now known as “9/11”. Some stories surfaced on why some people were still alive although they could have been numbers among the victims.
One survived that day because his son started kindergarten and had to take leave.
Another had to run an office errand so he wasn’t present in the office at the time of the attack.
Another was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off.
Another missed the bus and couldn’t get a taxi. Another one’s car couldn’t start. Another one’s child fell ill and had to go to the doctor.
One or another, they couldn’t go where they were supposed to, and neither could they see what was going to happen.
And because of that, they are still alive. And now they know why.
We too know why, and more than that, we can see the hand of Jesus in those events, just as the blind man eventually saw that he was born blind so that the works of God could be displayed in him.
And hence his profound testimony: I was blind and now I can see. That was also how he described himself after he was healed.
As for us, how do we describe ourselves? The words following “I am … “ are important because we dictate what is coming after.
So if we say “I am busy” then we will have no time. If we say “I am tired” then we will have no energy. If we say “I am old” then there will be more wrinkles!
But do we know how Jesus looks at us? And when we know how Jesus looks at us, then we will know how to describe ourselves.
Because we will say: I am a sinner, but I am saved. Because I am saved, then I am blessed. And because I am blessed, then I am thankful.
And because I am thankful, then every event in my life is beautiful because I can see Jesus in all those events and in every event to come.
“I was blind but now I can see” said the blind man in the gospel.
May we also see, and see more with our hearts, so that we will describe to others, how great and how wonderful our God is.