Now I see

“There was darkness over the deep.” As aircraft and ships comb the southern Indian Ocean for the remains of the missing Malaysian plane, these words from the opening of the book of Genesis come to mind. All the technology available to us today is being stretched to find evidence that can explain what happened. But, as I wrote this, we were still in the dark.

We are told we know less about the Indian Ocean floor than we know of the surface of the planet Venus. It is as hidden from us as the everyday world is from a blind man. The man of John, Chapter 9, was born blind. So he had no idea of colours or shapes, sunlight or oil lamps. He was so used to his condition that he did not even ask to be cured.

Jesus cured him, as he did other blind people in the gospels, but here this is only the beginning. What happens after the cure is what grips our attention. He is asked about it and says, “a man called Jesus” (a common name in that country) “made a paste and daubed my eyes and said ‘go and wash.’ I went and now I see.”

But it was a sensation and people weren’t satisfied and pursued the matter, asking more questions and prompting the man to say, “He is a prophet.” But they are still not prepared to leave the man in peace. They take him to the authorities who question him further. When they don’t get the answer they want they “drive him out.” But it doesn’t seem to bother him. He meets Jesus again and recognises who he really is and worships him.

We have a sense of a man transformed by his experience. No longer a poor blind beggar, it is not difficult to imagine him as a courageous member of the early church teaching others about Jesus and the light and courage he gives. It is a template for countless similar experiences in history. Ignatius of Loyola, in his time of painful searching, sat down by a river one day and “the eyes of his understanding began to be opened and he understood and knew many things.”

The searchers of the southern ocean are like people standing before a closed door. And we all stand before closed doors much of the time. The man born blind pushed on that door and was given the gift we call faith. In the darkness that we live in, where we face so many “unknowns”, this is the one known on which we can rely. But it is a gift that cannot be acquired by our own efforts alone.

I hope they will find that black box (it is actually orange) on the sea bed.

Post published in: Faith

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