Seeing everything.

Homily 485 – 31st APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
January 23, 2022
Epistle: (280-ctr) 1 Timothy 1:15-17
Gospel: (93) Luke 18:35-43
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

A question for us this morning. How much do we want to be healed? Do we even know we need healing?

We hear of the blind man, and I think join with the crowd in praising and glorifying God for the miracle that happens for this man.

We perhaps rarely think – this blind man is me. He is physically blind – I am spiritually blind. I cannot see the reality of the world around me.

I only see this illusion that everyone calls reality. Don’t misunderstand – the world around us is very real. It is tangible. But there is infinitely more to reality than the tangible parts. We don’t often consider it. But it is there, ready for us. Even in our blindness.

If we contemplate this, we recognize that in this world there are intangible things – things that cannot be detected by the physical senses – that exist in this world.

Maybe the most significant intangible aspect of our existence is relationships. We experience relationships with one another – intangible, frequently illogical, and unreasonable. We have relationships with animals who are not human.

We have relationships with individuals and groups of individuals that we have never encountered in life. Our society struggles with another society. Our country with another country.

And people live, and thrive, and die, and suffer.

Relationships exist – and have significantly more impact in many instances than the tangible world around us.

We know that God exists. Even without any tangible evidence, although I would personally argue that life and every aspect of the cosmos cry out to the truth of God’s existence.

Not everyone accepts that – but it doesn’t make it less true. Same for the body-less parts of the cosmos. The hosts of angels and archangels, the ones departed this life asleep but alive in Christ awaiting the resurrection.

We go about our lives never experiencing the fullness of reality because we don’t believe we are blind. We think we can see. We are blinded from our fallen-ness, and our arrogance.

We don’t typically understand joining the body of Christ as healing from blindness, but it only takes a casual look through the service texts of the Church to recognize the reality.

At our baptism, we are called the newly illumined. The waters are the waters of illumination.

Why then can’t we see?

This blind man was given sight. Physically, he could see. But I would imagine it took a long time before he could identify things by sight. It was the beginning of an immense learning project, I imagine.

He had to learn the significance and meaning of what he could now perceive visually. He was likely not able to identify visually his loved ones, or friends, or any of his surroundings.

Being given sight – being given illumination – isn’t the end. It is only the very beginning. We would then have to learn that this object is a lectern, and that object is a font, that object is an icon, and that object is a person and my wife.

So it is with our spiritual illumination. The ability to comprehend reality beyond the detection of the physical senses.

So many of us experience illumination in baptism, then behave like it is the end of the story. The end of our effort. But it is the beginning. The very beginning. New life.

We are illumined, then refuse to open our now-seeing eyes.

We need healing, and we are offered healing, and we receive healing. Now, we have to live a healed life.

We have to experience the new reality that we can encounter – the reality that we suspected was there, but now can see, dimly. We have to learn. It takes time.

In that time, though, we should become like children again. Willing to learn. Willing to understand things differently than before.

Adults are sometimes arrogant, believing they already know everything they need to know. At least the basics.

Children make no such assumptions about life. We should – must – approach our newfound sight as a child. Full of wonder, and curiosity, and trusting that in time, we will know.

Until we know, we will bask in the glory – the revelation – of God that we can now encounter, even if we don’t understand.

With the full knowledge and trust that when we are capable of understanding, God will reveal Himself to us.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.