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4th Sunday of Lent
2014 4:00pm, 10:30am and 12:00pm
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel
A Blind Spot
There is a story about a man named Joe who had just sat down at his desk to begin his workday.
One of his associates came running in, out of breath. He said, “I was almost killed.
“I had just walked out of the deli where I buy an egg salad sandwich every morning. A police car with its sirens and lights on was chasing another car down the street.
“The police car rammed the other car. Then the police and the guy in the other car got out and started firing shots at each other.
“I was right in the line of fire and I could hear bullets whizzing over my head. I’m telling you, Joe, I’m lucky to be alive.”
There was a moment of silence, and then Joe spoke. “So, do you eat an egg salad sandwich every morning?”
Well, Joe got so focused on the egg salad sandwich that he was blind to the terror and upset his associate had just experienced.
In today’s gospel, Jesus gives sight to a man who was born blind. But he is also poking at the rest of us – telling us to be aware of our blindness or blind spots.
Sometimes we can be just like Joe in that office. Probably we all have some spiritual blindness or blind spots that keep us from seeing things as they are.
In this gospel, we see three of the causes of our spiritual blind spots.
Cause 1: Preconceptions
First, preconceptions or preconceived ideas cause blind spots. Jesus’ apostles believe that physical impairments like blindness are caused by sin.
Jesus straightens out their thinking and tells them that no one’s sin caused this. But it is pretty clear that this preconception causes a blind spot in the apostles and they look down on this man and his parents.
Preconceptions can also cause spiritual blindness in us. For example, a recent media report promotes a preconception about the poor and especially about anyone who uses food stamps or other forms of government assistance.
No question, there can be abuses, but sometimes our preconceptions lead us to blame the poor for their situation and look down on them. So preconceptions like this create blind spots and keep us from seeing people as persons like ourselves.
Cause 2: Fear
Then fear can also cause blind spots. The parents of the man born blind are afraid to understand how their son has gained his sight.
They are afraid that they will be alienated from the synagogue and their friends. Their fear causes a blind spot and keeps them from seeing the truth about Jesus.
Fear can also cause spiritual blindness in us. Maybe we refuse to talk with a friend about some tensions in our relationship because we are afraid of what they might say about us.
We are afraid that we will have to admit to some thoughtlessness on our part also. So our fear can cause a blind spot and keep us from seeing the truth about ourselves.
Cause 3: Self-Interest
And finally, self-interest can cause blind spots. The religious leaders in this gospel story feel very threatened by Jesus.
They wonder what will happen to their position if people continue to flock to Jesus. This self-interest causes a blind spot and locks them into ways that are not good.
Self-interest can also cause spiritual blindness in us. It has done this in our Church when we refused to act openly and correctly about some very harmful behavior.
Self-interest can cause a supervisor to refuse to listen to criticism because it might call into question his or her competence. So self-interest can create a blind spot and this can keep us stuck in bad behavior.
So Jesus today is calling each of us to take the position of the man born blind and admit our spiritual blindness or blind spots.
One of our Catholic scholars says that Jesus is setting up a contrast here not between the physically blind and those who can see with their eyes. Rather, the contrast is between those who know they are spiritually blind and those who don’t.