Both of our Scripture readings speak in some way about blindness. As we move through the Acts of the Apostles, we read the first description of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Convinced that Christianity, or “The Way,” is a danger to the Jewish people, Saul is on his way to Damascus to arrest any Christians and take them back to Jerusalem. But on his way, he is struck by a bright light, and encounters the risen Jesus. Saul then realizes that he is physically blind. His blindness about Jesus is now matched by his loss of eyesight. When Ananias comes to Saul and lays hands upon him, Saul can see again, and begins to proclaim the Good News about Jesus.
In our Gospel reading from John, Jesus continues the “Bread of Life” discourse, and there are many listening to Him that do not understand Him: “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” They, too, are blind to who and what Jesus is.
While we may wonder at Saul’s persecution of the early Church, or at the people’s disbelief of Jesus, we need to see if there is any blindness within us. Do stress and distress in our lives blind us to God’s love and presence? Does busyness blind us to Jesus’ call to follow Him? When we read the mystics, we find that even they knew times when it was hard to see God working in their lives.
What can heal us of this blindness? Openness to Jesus. Saul’s life was opened to Jesus in a dramatic way, but that does not have to happen with us. As Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” When we receive the Eucharist, we are being opened to Jesus in a special way. We can open ourselves to Jesus by studying the Word. We can open ourselves to Him by opening ourselves to each other. Even the faithful disciple Ananias had to trust in Jesus and reach out to Saul.
When we trust in the love of the risen Lord, we begin to see more and more, until the time when we are with Jesus and can see Him “face to face.”
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.