October 28, 2012


The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” – Mark 10: 52

   An organist was giving a concert on an antique organ, the kind where the bellows are hand-pumped by a boy behind a screen, unseen by the audience. The first part of the performance was well-received. The audience was thrilled by the organist’s ability at the keyboard of the old instrument. After applause & bows, the organist walked off-stage triumphantly. As he passed the boy behind the screen he heard him say, “We played well, didn’t we?” To which the organist replied, “What do you mean ‘we’?”

   After the intermission, the organist again seated himself at the console & began to play. But nothing came out – not a sound! Then the organist heard a voice from behind the screen say, “Now do you know what ‘we’ means?”

   When music comes into our lives it is because some else is pumping the bellows. The blind beggar in today’s Gospel could not restore his own sight.  You & I cannot give birth to ourselves. We cannot love or be loved in isolation. We are dependent creatures. We cannot manufacture “abundant life” out of our own individual resources.

   Today’s blind beggars come in many forms. But beneath the many forms I perceive a common denominator: we need a new vision of life, & that means a new vision of ourselves. What does it mean to be human? The answer we give to that question will determine the direction in which we seek to answer our other questions.

   It seems to me that we in the West have done our level best in the past 400 years to throw out the Christian answer to that question, & in so doing we have deprived ourselves of our most precious resource: our spiritual vision. Without it, we bump around like blind people in the dark, grasping at the latest idea or solution in the desperate hope that it might work. Even among Christians there are those who would have us dilute or outright change the Gospel message to make it more palatable to contemporary tastes. But this simply will not do.

   As St. Paul said, “If Christ be not risen from the dead, we are of all people the most to be pitied.” On the other hand, if He is risen, then He is the Son of God who alone has the answers to our most basic & pressing concerns. It will not do to drag out that old, hackneyed charge of hypocrisy & dismiss the message because the messengers (us fallible creatures who profess His name) do not live up to what they profess. That argument only says something about us, not the message.

   Still, unless there are those who can give flesh to the message, of what use is it? This is only to say that we will always need those who are the real thing, the saints, who can peel back the scales from our feeble eyes so that we can share their vision.

   My experience & intuition tell me we are going to need such people more than ever. No, I have no crystal ball to tell the future. But I sense the rumblings that foreshadow the kind of earthquake that comes when a society has lost its spiritual bearings. Already, we are seeing hints of the chaos that comes when we take Christian values too lightly or for granted. Already Christians are being called upon to justify their faith & witness to it in ways not imagined until recently.

   Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT being a doomsayer! My point is one of hope. The Church has withstood fearful cataclysms before, & our Lord has always kept His promise that not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it. That does not mean, however, that we will be spared the whirlwind. Indeed, we need it. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” It will not be until we are forced to recognize our blindness that we will be desperate enough to call out from the depths of our hearts, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on us.”  I suspect the future of the Church lies with those who have already endured their trial by fire in other parts of the world.

   This isn’t to say that Church here has no future, just a rough & bumpy one. Part of the Good News is that God’s healing power is present to us even in the most difficult of times. Especially in our darkest moments, the light breaks in & the way opens & we know that God IS acting in that situation to make all things new. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory! Thanks be to God who shows us what “we” means!  AMEN!