“Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39).
No one wants to be blind. No one wants to be deprived of seeing the beauty of this world, the people around us, especially our loved ones.
No one cannot imagine himself or herself not being able to read, see a movie, drive a car, and walk safely. Being blind is probably the worst thing that can happen to anyone.
There is a blindness that we ought to fear–not physical blindness, but spiritual blindness. This is the inability to see one’s worth before God, to recognize God’s love, mercy, blessings, and powerful actions in the world and the Church.
It’s the dreadful condition of not seeing the sufferings of people, being numbed to feel their pain, choosing to ignore the injustice done to them, and opting instead to secure one’s wealth, comfort, power, and prestige.
It’s the terrible disease of narcissism, in which one does not see his mistakes, wrongdoings, and imperfections, and keeps blaming others but himself for his lot and problems and those of the world. He is too good, too bright, and too morally right to accept any fault.
People walk, travel, and gather around with spiritual blindness like in this story:
While a group of parishioners were on a bus trip to the grand parks and canyons of Nevada and Arizona, they passed by awe-inspiring sceneries of snow-capped mountains, magnificent lakes, flowing rivers, wild floras and faunas, and a blue sky painted with gorgeous clouds.
The problem was, the window curtains of the bus were closed, and these travelers were not seeing these fantastic sights. Instead, they were busy talking about each other, gossiping about the latest issues in the church, and checking out who got the best seat in the bus, the most popular one in the group, the closest one to the pastor, and the richest among them.
In this story, we find that some causes of spiritual blindness are jealousy, competition, and self-righteousness. These are feelings and attitudes that prevent someone from acknowledging goodness in other people because she only notices the “splinter” their eyes. As the gospel this Sunday relates, this person does not even see the wooden beam in her eyes.
A person who is spiritually blind feels superior, is arrogant, and does not see the place of other people in God’s Kingdom. He’s the parish leader who won’t give up his or her position in the church so that others can lead. He’s the priest or the minister who gets jealous and insecure when a colleague excels in ministry and is promoted. She’s the co-worker who gossips about employees to project herself as better than others.
Fundamentally then, this person suffers from a lack of self-worth, which makes him or her resentful and unhappy. It’s why he or she is like a rotten tree that does not bear good fruits.
What can a person do then to be healed from spiritual blindness? He needs dozes of humility, empathy, and gratefulness to recognize his self-worth and the gifts of others. She needs to disentangle herself from a culture of scarcity in which she does not feel “enough” and does not recognize the giftedness of other people. He or she needs to realize that in the garden of God, every flower is distinct and has value and place under the sun.
It’s what St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower, alludes in her autobiography, The Story of the Soul:
“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enameled with lovely hues. And so, it is in the world of souls, Our Lord’s living garden.”
Let’s ask Jesus to heal us from spiritual blindness so we can see the bright light of God’s graces in the world, people, and ourselves!
* * *
From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.