Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lead us from Darkness to Light!

I was born blind. It means that I was born with only four of the five senses people usually have. I could hear sounds, I could smell, I could touch and feel, and I could taste. But I couldn’t see anything at all. I didn’t even know what it means to see. I couldn’t tell the difference between red and blue. I couldn’t distinguish between black and white. I didn’t know how night is different from the day.  I had managed to grow up with my four senses, and I had learned to live with them.
I was very much dependent upon the help of other people. I would sit by the side of a street and stretch my arms at the passersby. People often felt pity for me and gave me a coin or two. Sometimes they gave me a piece of bread to eat. One day as usual I stretched my arms at some people who passed by. Someone approached me and asked me if I wanted eyesight? I didn’t know what to say. He knelt down, spat on the ground, and made a little paste out of it and placed it on my blind eyes. I felt confused. Why would anyone want to do this to a blind beggar? Watching my confusion, this man placed his hands on my arms, introduced himself as Jesus, and told me that I was going to gain eyesight. All that I needed to do was to walk up to a nearby pool and wash off the mud. I got up and started walking. I reached the pool, bent down, got some water, and washed my eyes.
The world transformed before me. My brain took a while to interpret what my eyes saw. Bewilderment turned to excitement. I didn’t think it was real. I thought that it was probably a dream. I took quick steps to reach my home to share the excitement with my family. Reaching there, I was even more excited to see my family members for the very first time. With tears of joy I shared the good news with them – I could see.
But soon I noticed that none of them found it easy to believe what had happened. Even my parents and my brothers and sisters failed to recognize me for a while. The man standing before them was not the blind man they had known for years. Accompanied by a brother, I took a walk around the places I was familiar with, and those who saw me were very much confused about me. They approached me to find out who I really was and to hear my story. I kept repeating the same story of how I got sight over and over to everyone I met.
My situation looked like a puzzle to some of them that they decided to take me to the local community leaders, the Pharisees, hoping that they might solve the puzzle. The Pharisees were learned people. They had the ability to read and understand the scriptures, and they claimed to know the laws that govern human life and the history of the world. However, my story was even more baffling to the Pharisees. They conducted a thorough investigation of the incident.
First they cross-examined me elaborately to collect all the details. They probably wanted to find out if it really had happened to me or if it was a story I had made up. Then they interrogated my parents to confirm my identity. Once they confirmed that I was telling the truth and that I was truly who I said I was, they turned to the real issue that gave them a headache—Jesus, the man who had given me eyesight.
I noticed that the Pharisees were engaged in a fierce argument among themselves. A couple of them thought that Jesus must be a man of God to have done such a healing miracle. But the others fiercely yelled at them that Jesus must be a sinner for he had broken the laws of Sabbath.
My curiosity rose, and I listened intently to find out how Jesus had broken the laws. I heard one of them explaining that when Jesus had made a paste of soil and put it on my eyes, he was breaking the Sabbath. Jesus “worked” on Sabbath by making the paste. According to the Sabbath rules, no one was supposed to work on Sabbath.
Well, if Jesus had been a sinner, God would not have listened to his prayer. Then where had he received the power to do miracles? They probably meant that Jesus was an agent of Satan. I heard someone else explain that I had been created blind by God as a punishment for an unforgivable sin committed by my parents or grandparents or great grandparents. Now by opening my eyes with the power of Satan, Jesus was rebelling against God.
Hearing this argument, I felt pity for them. Here was a man who had done a miracle no one had ever heard of—he gave sight to me who had been born blind. Now these learned community leaders were trying to prove that this man was a criminal for making a paste to put on my eyes. It looks like they didn’t even have the common sense. Their conclusion about Jesus was outright stupidity. I also felt anger toward them.
After long arguments among themselves, they turned to me and asked what I thought of Jesus. I told them what I knew about Jesus and what I honestly thought about him. I explain that I had never had an opportunity to see Jesus although he had talked to me kindly and applied some paste on my eyes. Now that I could see, my life had radically changed. It was Jesus who made it possible. So I honestly believed that Jesus must be a man of God.
Hearing this from me they got mad like anything and their leader declared that I was excommunicated from the community. This declaration came down on me like a thunderbolt. Now I was no more a part of my own community, and no one in my community was supposed to talk to me or associate with me in any way. My parents, brothers and sisters sadly moved their faces away from me for fear that they also might get excommunicated along with me.
From the height of excitement I was thrown down to the depth of despair. Nowhere else to go, I went back to the place I usually sit to beg. Sitting alone, feeling depressed and devastated, I wondered if I had got my eyesight to see myself getting excommunicated. ”God, why did you give me eyesight,” I complained. Tears started rolling down. I spent a few hours alone in utter hopelessness. I noticed that everyone was avoiding me. No one was even coming closer to me. As soon as they saw me, they walked away.
Recovering from the depth of despair, I began to make an analysis of the situation. Why did this happen? All the events of the day passed through my mind one after another. It all happened because Jesus had given me eyesight. So could I blame Jesus? Not at all! He was merely helping me to live my life like everyone else. Could I blame myself for honestly admitting my belief that Jesus must be a man of God? Not at all! So who is to blame? The Pharisees!
They claimed to be men of God, but their actions showed that they were not. Compared to Jesus, they did not care for me. When I had been in pain, they had done nothing for me. When I got eyesight and I was rejoicing, instead of rejoicing with me, they excommunicated me as if I was a criminal. They want me to remain blind and lead a miserable life.
It seems that the Pharisees lacked the common sense. It was like blindness. They couldn’t see something that was very obvious to others. It is commonsense that rituals and rules exist for human wellbeing. But they seemed to think that human beings exist for the sole purpose of preserving rituals and rules. It is like a man carrying a donkey instead of a donkey carrying a man. Jesus only wanted to do good to people, but these Pharisees called him a criminal.
I don’t know how long I sat there with my depressing thoughts and feelings. I felt a soft touch on my back. Surprised, I turned around to see a man with a pleasant face. It seemed that this man hadn’t heard about my excommunication. If he had, he wouldn’t have come so close to me.  An excommunication prevents people from making any kind of contact with an excommunicated person. While I wondered who this person might be, he told me that he had already known about my excommunication. I assumed that he must be someone who had already been excommunicated like me or someone who didn’t care for excommunication. He introduced himself as Jesus. As soon as I heard that name, instinctively I fell at his feet. He cared for me. He had saved me from a life of darkness and misery. I felt fully safe at his feet. My feelings of despair vanished just like a thick fog disappears in Sunlight. My heart filled with unspeakable joy.

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