Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Great Fast and the Great Struggle - Part III: Our Blindness and God's Vision

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The Gospel of the man born blind has a significance beyond human words. For like every Gospel of the Great Fast, it is the story of ourselves. Who of us has not experienced the bitter feeling that we have made a mess of our lives, and have been reduced to the status of a beggar. We often remember, with remorse, our imperfect past; and sense with a fatal intuition that our mistakes have led us to our present distress. But all the while, what we did not know was that Christ was preparing to rush into the present scene as our hero—our Savior.

IIt was the belief of the most devout Jews of the day, that a man blind from birth certainly deserved his calamity because of his sins or those of his parents. Thus, the poor man sat near the temple day after day, with the double fold suffering at his blindness and the idea that it was a just punishment from God. All the religious leaders of the day told him so; and if the punishment came from the Almighty, what hope was there of any repeal or relief? There was none. He was blind; and worse, he was without any inkling possiblity of a better future. "My soul melts from heaviness" (Ps 119:28).

But then, God did come to him; not on a cloud from heaven, but on two feet (who would have guessed?) walking through the portals of the temple. And He spoke, not as by thunder from heaven, but by the soft words of human lips: "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents..." (Jn 9:3)—grateful words to the poor man's ears. The words he now hears may have helped to lift a burden off his heart; already he is more grateful to the speaker of these few words than to all the people who had given him alms since his birth. The money men gave him offered temporary short-lived relief from his hunger; the solemn and gracious statement spoken by Christ offered a permanent life-long healing for a painful wound that had taken residence in his soul. Who was this man who could thus offer hope? Who was this teacher who spoke with such authority and love, in stark contrast to the rabbis he had heard? "You have put gladness in my heart" (Ps 4:7)

It was Christ; my Christ and your Christ. I am a blind, confused beggar; you might be one too. Let us erase the false impression of ourselves as mere "spectators" of the Gospel readings. Nay, we are always the main sufferer in the story, the main sinner, the desperate soul. There is no other way to rightly know the Gospels; there is no other way to rightly know Christ. I hear of an incident when Christ passes in the middle of a busy trip, to lift a poor, forsaken man from his misery.

"Why is my life like this? Where is my life headed?" The blindness and uncertainty of our lives lead us to ask a thousand questions. But we don't have to let our burdens force a harrowing dejection upon us. No, God always has a purpose—"...that the works of God may be revealed in him" (Jn 9:3). We may live in darkness for a time; but God will shine the splendid light one day. If need be, He will create new eyes for our souls. For the old, worn vision has led us astray.

God is never slack concerning His promises. He will come; He will lift us up; He will enlighten us. Stop groping around in the darkness for an answer. Refuse the soar agonizing of the mind over your condition! Christ will give you new eyes; and your new vision will set you free. He often lets our own eyes fail that He may give us new ones. We must not see how the world sees. We must see as He sees. It is a difficult art to learn. It is a difficult purification to undergo. But we must, if we would be more like Him—if we would let Him fill us with the "fullness of joy."

~~~The Fathers Speak~~~

The name of Jesus still removes disturbances, demons, and diseases from people's minds. It produces marvelous gentleness, dignified character, love for humility, and the greatest goodness and mercy.


Scripture underlines our weakness in the face of the onslaught of the vices. But its words ensure that the more the soul sees the triumphs of so many heroes of the faith, the less it is alarmed in the midst of its own battle...From Scripture the soul of the reader learns the confidence of hope.

St. Gregory the Great

A brother said to Abba Poemen, "My heart becomes lukewarm when a little suffering comes my way." The old man said to him, "Do we not admire Joseph, a young man of seventeen, for enduring his temptation to the end? And God glorified him. Do we not also see Job, how he suffered to the end, and lived in endurance? Temptations cannot destroy hope in God."

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