There was a blind gentleman who used to come to our home twice a year seeking employment. He specialized in repairing cane and wire furniture, a common enough fixture in homes around the neighborhood. Given the presence of two young boys, prodigious quality control experts in their own right, this gentleman was never short of employment opportunities on each such visit to our home. After all the man was blind and it was only charitable to keep him adequately employed through the years. Strangely, my parents never did share my sense of generosity, at least not in this particular matter.
The Deep Desire for Restoration
On such days, we were given the task of carrying the unappreciated evidence of our efforts from the living room and out into the courtyard where this Gentleman would settle in for the day. I was particularly fascinated by his skill, the deftness and dexterity with which he eliminated said evidence and restored it to its near-original form, ready for the next round of quality control and testing. If it wasn’t a school day, I would spend my time right next to this gentleman watching him work. This was a time when I was just as enthralled by the Daredevil comic series. In both cases, comic books or real life, there was something peculiarly satisfying about watching these men turn a disability into a super-power, making even a mundane task at hand seem miraculously magnificent.
The question that kept me wondering, in polite reserved silence, was this – “Would this blind gentleman have wanted to regain his sight”? To those of us who can see, the question might seem rather rhetorical. In Matthew 9:27, we hear of two blind men who run after Jesus, crying out to him to have pity on them. What was it about the nature of physical blindness that made those blind men desire the restoration of sight? Is there a sense of “incompleteness” that compelled them to cry out to Jesus to restore their sight, to make them whole again? If man is made in the image and likeness of his Creator, then wouldn’t being blind, bring with it a natural awareness of this incompleteness together with a deep yearning for a restoration to wholeness? Given, the opportunity to be healed, is there any blind person out there who wouldn’t leap at the opportunity to receive sight?
Reinforcement of Certain Knowledge
There is something different about spiritual blindness. The process of healing mirrors the story of the two blind men. Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I can do this?” Like those two blind men, in all earnestness, I answer yes, receive absolution and I joyfully leave the confessional. However, with spiritual blindness, particularly that resulting from habitual sin, the concupiscent enslavement is just as powerful as the yearning to be set free. Weeks or days later, it is as if I deliberately choose to blind myself again. Why do I choose to perpetually indulge in these habitual vices when I know better, when I know just how incomplete I will feel soon after the brief, but “false satisfaction” of the vice, has dissipated?
Does the greater knowledge of the availability of His mercy embolden me to sin between healings? I do take some solace in St Paul’s helpless words in Romans 7:15, “For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate”. His cry for help is a poetic rendition of the cry of the two blind men, “Miserable one that I am, who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (Romans 7:24). If there is one thing this cycle of habitual vice and healing has taught me, it is that it has produced a habitual reinforcement of certain knowledge. Knowledge that my only recourse when I blind myself again, is to cry out to Him one more time, “Son of David, have pity on me”. Amen.