Religious People: What Kind?

Today is the Sunday of the Blind Man, the sixth Sunday of Holy Pascha (Easter). I was supposed to preach at St. Basil this morning. But, I damaged my left foot and have to let it rest for a couple of days.

Ethiopian Icons of the Theotokos and Crucifixion

In the Gospel lesson in John 9:1-38, there are two types of religious people: the legalist who judge according to their preconceived ideas and the enlightened who acted with the grace of Jesus Christ. The second man had been blind from birth, perhaps with no expectations of seeing anything or how his condition should be changed. He didn’t have any objections to the mud that Jesus put on his eyes and obeyed when the Lord told him to “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” The man received the spit and dirt combination, washed where people were sent (Siloam), and received sight.

Compare this man to the Pharisees, the legal experts who were opposed to Jesus even to the miracle that had just taken place. Because of their jealousy and pride, they could not give glory to God that the man born blind can now see. They sought some sort of flaw in the man’s testimony, “A healing cannot take place on the Sabbath.” “Perhaps his parents know how he was really healed, if he were really blind in the first place.” “Moses never taught us anything like this.” “We know Jesus is a sinner.” “In fact, this man was born blind because of his family’s sin. Throw him out of the synagogue.”

Icon of the Man Born Blind

Jesus only had problems with this kind of religious person. The ones who are envious, proud, and care about protecting their status. He never really had issues with tax collectors, such as Matthew who left the trade to become a disciple and Zaccheus who climbed a tree to see Him and swore to generously repay those whom he cheated. Nor did He oppose the repentant prostitute who tear-washed and hair dried His feet. These, like the man in our lesson, received and acted according to God’s grace through Jesus Christ. They were enlightened; born blind, now seeing.

The obstinate and stubborn religious people blinded themselves. They refused God’s grace through Christ and not following His commands. Grace comes from things that are basic and unpopular. Who wants someone’s spit and dirt on them? Obedience is something else people want to avoid. We are free and want to be our own person. We have our own ideas about religion and we don’t want the Lord to challenge us by those sent before us. Such blind religious people have no tolerance for the enlightened.

Fr. James Purdie blessing my car

The goal of the Christian should be to become less of the legalistic Pharisee and more of the enlightened man who was born blind. Receive the glory of God through Jesus Christ, cleanse in the ways of the ones sent by God and follow His ways.

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