So Much More than Healing: Newness of Life Through Obedience

He has renewed the heaven, because foolish men had worshipped all kinds of stars; He has renewed the earth which had grown old in Adam.  With his spittle there took place a novel fashioning:

He who is capable of all things puts aright both bodies and minds.  He is the Creator’s Son, whose treasure stores are filled with every benefit.  He who needs pupils, let him approach him:

He will fashion mud, and transform it, fashioning flesh and giving light to the eyes.  With a little mud he showed how, through Him, our dust was fashioned; the soul of the dead man, too, bore witness to Him how, by Him, man’s breath is breathed into him.  By these latter witnesses He is to be believed to be the Son [of God], the First Principle.”  Saint Ephraim the Syrian

JCBLIND1The Church Fathers, including Saint Ephraim, recognize in the Gospel account of the man born blind more than a physical healing, but an act of creation.  The man in today’s Gospel had no eyes with which to see. The Church hymns refer to him as eyeless (ἀόματος).  Christ’s Incarnation, His Death, and Resurrection effect more than a restoration to what was prior to the Fall.  It is an entirely new creation.  This new creation takes on new life when it is joined to the actions and words of the blind man who dared to believe.

Today’s Gospel is similar to the one we heard a few Sundays ago concerning the paralytic.  The manifestation of God’s glory requires our cooperation.  Once the Lord anointed the place where the man’s eyes should have been, He ordered him to wash in the pool of Siloam.  The blind man immediately did what he was told, new eyes were formed, and the glory of the Lord was made manifest. This newness of life that the blind man experienced is the legacy that every Christian is meant to inherit. It means new thoughts, new feelings, new actions all welling forth from a new relationship with Jesus Christ.

In cognitive therapy, there is much talk about modifying thought patterns as well as reconstructing thought patterns, but in the case of our relationship with God, we need not modified or reconstructed ways of thinking, but entirely new ways of thinking, new eyes with which to see, a new mind with which to perceive. For this new creation to be effected, we need to be open to Christ’s action upon our spirit and to be willing to obey whatever He asks of us, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, such as putting mud on our eyes and going to wash in a pool. Obedience creates new eyes. And new eyes can enable us to see Christ.

As we approach the Feast of the Ascension, we are reminded of God’s great love for us.  However, for that love to be made effective in our lives, we must cooperate with that love.  Faith and obedience are essential requirements.  The man born blind received his physical sight and much more.  Our tradition tells us that he became a devout follower of Christ and was known as Saint Celidonius.  This gift of physical sight was nourished and fed through his encounter with Christ.  From physical sight, the man born blind beheld the Creator and Savior of the world.  From that day forward, he worshipped him as Son of God. Through holy obedience to the commandments of Christ recorded in the Gospels, may we do the very same.

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