St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Sunday of the Blind Man

Sunday of the Blind Man

(John 9:1-38)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for the past six Sundays we have been rejoicing in the Light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Paschal season is surely the brightest and most joyful season of the year! We greet one another with the most beautiful words: ‘Christ is risen!’ and what heart does not rejoice with these words?

And now, with this Sixth Sunday of Pascha, we approach the leavetaking of the Paschal season. This Wednesday evening and Thursday morning we will gather to celebrate the glorious Ascension of our Lord, when He was translated from earth to heaven.

Before speaking about the theme of today’s Gospel, let us take a look back at the lessons the Church has been giving us over these Paschal Sundays.

Following the Bright and Radiant Resurrection of our Lord, on the Second Sunday of Pascha we heard about the holy Apostle Thomas and how he - not being present when the Lord had appeared to the other disciples - how he declared ‘unless I feel the print of the nails in His hands and unless I can thrust my hand into the wound in His side, I will not believe.’ Thomas required such proof before he would believe in Christ’s resurrection. Yet, what did he do in his state of unbelief? Did he leave the company of the disciples? No, he stayed close with the believers and was patient. And that patience was rewarded as Christ appeared before him and once again extended Himself to His creature, offering Thomas His hands and His side so that Thomas might believe. And Thomas fell before Him saying: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Christ words then were: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

On the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Church brought before us the example of the courage of the myrrh-bearing women. Though they had no reason to expect anything but hardship and potential danger, they ventured forth to anoint the body of the Lord. Driven by their faith, hope, and love… they were rewarded by coming to the tomb, where the stone and been rolled away and they were the first to hear the joyous news that Christ was not there, that He was risen from the dead!

On the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, we had the lesson of persistence and patience demonstrated by the paralytic man who sat by the pool. Though week after week, and month after month, and year after year he was unable to get into the healing waters of the pool, he did not give up hope. And that persistence and patience was rewarded as Christ passed by the pool and offered the paralytic his full and complete healing.

Last week, on the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, we witnessed the profound exchange between Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well. In that discussion Christ revealed that ‘the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’

And now today, on this Sixth and final Sunday of Pascha, we hear about the healing of the blind man.  

In today’s Holy Gospel we hear the account of the healing of the man who had been born blind. Our Lord, in His mercy, had compassion upon this man and gave him the gift of sight. There are certainly many lessons for us in today’s Gospel reading. The lessons of blindness… for we are all blind to one degree or another. Blind to our sinful condition, blind to the needs of others, blind to how much God has done and continues to do for us, and blind to how much we need Him.

We also have in this account of the healing of blind man and of the ridiculous interrogations which followed his healing, an excellent example of the assurance of faith based on the experience of encountering God. When pressed by the Pharisees about how he was cured, the formerly blind man responded with boldness and honesty about the wondrous miracle that Christ had bestowed upon him. The Pharisees tried to push him to declare that Jesus was a sinner and the man replied, ‘Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.’ The simplicity and guilelessness of his statement refused to enter into debate with the Pharisees, he simply stuck to the facts of the miracle of his experience and encounter with Christ our God. He had been washed and illumined, and in the purity of his heart, he not only saw with his physical eyes, but he perceived the truth as well.

May God grant that we might have such peace and grounding. A grounding based on the experience of the love of God in our lives. A grounding which is not shaken by the apostasy of the world, but holds fast in gratitude and allegiance to Christ our Savior.

All of these lessons of the last six Sundays are given to us to equip us now as we go forward into our lives, as we go forward into the days beyond that brightness of Pascha. Should our faith be shaken by doubt, let us recall Apostle Thomas, who stood by the believers and in doing so was there when Christ came to him. Let us go forward with the faith and hope and love of the myrhh-bearers which equipped them with such courage. If we find ourselves in the days and months ahead feeling paralyzed, let us have persistence and patience… for Christ will come to us if we remain faithful. Let us be assured that the Kingdom of Heaven is present… we have to do the work of prayer and communion with Christ to worship Him in spirit and truth. And let us seek to purify our hearts… so that we might see God and not live our lives as blind men.

These lessons of the Paschal season, if we can learn from them and incorporate them into our Christian lives, will allow us to bring that bright and radiant Light of Christ’s resurrection with us throughout the remainder of the year and throughout the remainder of our life. May God grant it!

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