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SUNDAY OF THE MAN BORN BLIND
fr_basil
HOMILY ON THE SUNDAY OF THE MAN BORN BLIND
May 21, 2017
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ is Risen!
Dear Ones,
The Lord said: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36.) "The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness (Matt. 6:22-23).
So, Christ is the Light. If we are his followers, if we are His disciples, if we are obedient to His commandments and believe completely and without reservation in Him, we will will not only see the Light, but we will be filled with Light! If our eye, (that is, our heart which is the eye of the soul,) is clear and free from sins and passions, then we will not only be full of light, but we will even radiate that light as St Seraphim did when he was with Motovilov in the forest. This is the meaning of deification. This is theosis. This is the meaning and goal of our lives, isn’t it? Why did the Lord take His disciples to the top of Mount Tabor? It was to reveal to them not only Who He Was, but who they could be – partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4); and seers of the Divine Glory (John 11:40).
But what if our “eye,” the spiritual center of our soul, is not so clear, not so healthy? This is the lesson and warning of today’s Gospel. The late hierarch and Confessor Metropolitan Philaret of New York said this:
"The Church, telling us today about this miracle of the Savior, at the same time sings in the person of each one of us: ‘Blind with my spiritual eyes, I come to Thee, O Christ, like the one born blind.’ Not long ago (during the Great Fast) we prayed to our Lord intensely: ‘Grant that I may see my own transgressions.’ If we ask to see, to be able to see our sins, it means we cannot see them as well as is needed. This is because our ‘spiritual eyes’ are blind. This is why this prayer of the Church, (St Ephraim’s Prayer), is so full of sense and meaning for each of us. The Holy Fathers also always say that people cannot see their sins as clearly as they should” (Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York, +1985, Hom. II on The Man Born Blind).
So we all suffer from some degree of spiritual blindness. The elder Cleopa observed the following:
Spiritual blindness is one of the weightiest diseases of the soul – causing its death and eternal condemnation. And so the healing of this illness is of a much grater difficulty and has more importance than physical blindness.
And, what do we understand by spiritual blindness? What else than the darkness and enslavement of man’s soul through all kinds of spiritual and bodily sins; pride of the mind, hardness of heart, the weakening of man’s will and conscience, unbelief and doubts concerning the faith, sectarianism, despair, pride and suicide, the killing of body and soul, the killing of the unborn, hate and the anger among people, divorce, fornication, lies, desire for wealth, stinginess, greediness, drunkenness, laziness and many others.
All sins sicken and drag the soul into blindness and apathy, and the body into heavy disease with no cure. And if we don’t renounce those sins that enslave us, through repentance, confession and spiritual renewal, this spiritual blindness, as any disease, it will lead to spiritual death and to condemnation of our soul to the torments of hell” (Elder Cleopa Ilie, taken from Orthodox Word, May 9, 2010).
So, what to do? The answer is simple. St Augustine reminds us of the words of the Lord and adds a few of his own:
“The Lord tells us: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
In these few words He gives us a command and makes us a promise. Let us do what He commands so that we won’t be embarrassed to expect what He promises, and instead to hear Him say on the day of judgement: ‘I laid down certain conditions for obtaining my promises. Have you fulfilled them?’ If you say: ‘What did You command, Lord our God?’ he will tell you: ‘I commanded you to follow me. You asked for advice on how to enter into life. What life (do you desire to enter), if not the life about which it is written: ‘For with Thee is the fountain of life?’ * Let us do now what He commands. Let us follow in the footsteps of the Lord. Let us throw off the chains that prevent us from following Him’” ( Augustine of Hippo, Tractates on John).
So that’s what St Augustine says to us. That’s how all the holy fathers interpret this miracle that we heard about this morning. It has very deep meaning, and a profound warning. But the rewards of heeding the warning far outstrip any fear that it might produce. The Lord never warns us in order for us to fail. He warns us to stir us to action. And He always gives us sufficient grace in order to be victorious in our battles. That’s why He said to St Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Amen!
*Psalm 35/36:9; also the Great Doxology of Matins (Orthros)

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