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  • Fr. Athanasius Oweis

Restoring True Sight - January 23, 2022

LUKE 18:35-43

At that time, as Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." And he cried, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

It would be non-sensical if the same architect who built the highest tower in the world, “Burj Khalifa” in Dubai today, was bragging about a small house that he built before that tower. As he proved his great ability already by taking on a much-larger feat of engineering.

By the same measure, when the Church presents to us the Gospel of today, Her intention is not to show us that Christ can do miracles, Christ can heal a blind man. Because we already celebrated this morning and every Sunday the miracle of miracles, the power of Christ over the pinnacle of all what is impossible. The Glorious Resurrection. Christ overcame death, and He resurrected and gave us life eternal. So when the Church chooses for us today’s Gospel after the great feast of Theophany, and as we are getting closer and closer to great lent, in Her maternal gift she wanted to tell us that in this Gospel there are deep lessons that we have to pay attention to and to learn. Hence, I would like to share with your love today three of these lessons:

The first lesson that we need to learn today is to scream: “Jesus, Have mercy on me”. Not only we need to learn to scream, but how to scream. When the blind man heard that Jesus was passing by, he immediately started crying: “Jesus, son of David”. Jesus was not the son of David, He was the son of Joseph, as the people thought at that time. However, this blind man called him as the son of David because David was the greatest king of Israel, and the son of a king is also a king. Hence this blind man called Jesus a king. Not only he was clever, he had great faith in Christ. Unfortunately, the people around him tried to silence him, as the world around us today tries to silence everyone that truly calls on Christ. In Quebec, Canada the Churches are still closed because of COVID. Can you believe that? They want to silence even the prayerful. Lord have mercy! And yet, this man didn’t adhere to the rebukes but cried louder and louder. If he didn’t have solid faith that Christ can heal him, he wouldn’t have cried. Why would he? His faith made him express with a loud voice. The psalmist in Psalm 115:10 says: “I believed, therefore I spoke,” This man believed, hence he spoke very loudly. He expressed his faith in the King.

The second lesson is that. Jesus listens. He did with this man, as He does with every single one of us who cry in faith. He did because He knew that this man was blind physically, but he had more sight than most people around him spiritually. This man knew who Christ was, and he knew that Christ is able to heal him, and the Gospel tells us that this man followed Christ as soon as he was healed. Christ listens to those who are willing to follow Him. He changes His course for those who do. The Church tells you and me today, follow Christ, live with Christ, breathe Christ, feed on His word, pray, listen to His sweet voice, eat and drink His body and blood, give Him your time and your heart. Make Him your priority, your goal, your target, your beloved the one who you strive to please, and see His power.

The third lesson that the Church wants us to learn today is how to speak to Christ, what to pray. Christ asked this man “What do you want me to do to you?” If Christ appeared to you today and asked you the same question: “What do you want me to do to you?”, what would you answer? What would you ask him? What is your most pressing need?

This man answered the perfect answer. He said: "Lord, let me receive my sight."

This blind man as all those who are blind live in utter physical darkness. They cannot see any light. The first words uttered by God in the book of Genesis were: “Let there be light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Hence, our prayer should always be like this. "Lord, let me receive my sight, and have mercy on me" You might wonder, “but I am not blind, I have a 20/20 sight!”. The true Church of Christ today as the hospital of the souls gives us the diagnosis: She tells you and me that we are all blind: We might see clearly in the physical world, but our spiritual sight is 0/20. We might not like this diagnosis, but this is the truth.

In John 8:12 Christ tells us “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” And if we truly follow Christ in our life of repentance then Christ affirms to us in Matthew 5 “ You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Let me give you some examples of real men who embodied Christ’s words and became the light of the world. When saint Gregory the Wonderworker became bishop of his own city Neo-Caesarea in the year 240, he found only seventeen Christians. By the time the Saint reposed about the year 265, there were only seventeen unbelievers left there. Saint Seraphim Sarov who became a light for all Russia famously said: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” Can we truly say that a thousand souls around us are saved? We are trying hard to barely save our own selves.

God separated between light and darkness in Genesis to tell us that life with Christ cannot exist with the life in sin. We have to struggle against our sins daily. Saint Porphyrios of Athos tells us how: “Do not fight to expel the darkness from the chamber of your soul. Instead open a tiny aperture for light to enter and the darkness will disappear”. Hence, our mother the Church tells us that rather than focusing on our sins, let us focus on being close to Christ. By loving Him more. This is why we sing in the Great Doxology verse 9 from Psalm 35: For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light.

Hence, if we want to “walk as children of light” with “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” as saint Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5:8-9, then we need to “filled with the Spirit” through the mysteries of our Holy Church, and when the light of Christ is shown in our heart, we are filled with Joy, as Psalm 97:11 says: “Light is sown for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart.” And in Ecclesiastes 11:7 we hear: “Truly the light is sweet, And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun”. Then our heart will be filled with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” Ephesians 5:18

May God grant us the gift of restoring our spiritual sight, and may He gives us good eyes, so our whole body is filled with Light as Christ teaches us in Matthew 6. So we hear the same answer that this man heard from Christ’s mouth: “your faith has made you well." Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, and all the saints whom their lives became light for the whole Church. Amen.

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