Print Version February 16th, 2006
There have been several cases of people blind from birth who in adulthood have been cured—or at least the physical impediment to their sight is removed. Sometimes it’s a tumour removed or cataracts, sometimes new corneas grafted in. But even though the cure is complete in one sense the person still has to learn to see for the first time.
That learning can be terrifying, the light painful, the chaos of colour disorientating, the formless field of light confusing. And nothing they had once imagined about the visual world seems to fit the unbelievable experience they are undergoing. They cannot believe their fingers or their ears. Before they could cross the road by ear alone and now the only way to do it is to close their new found eyes and let the familiar skills of darkness take care of them.
Learning to see takes time and those who’ve done it say it never loses its oddness and awful wonder.
I think that’s how we are in this world since Jesus. In some real sense Jesus death and resurrection changed everything—it filled the whole word with its joy. It cured us completely. But still we have to learn to live by its light. We still only half see. People hardly see human half the time. Often we don’t whether to laugh or cry.
And I think maybe that’s a mercy—our being halfway creatures. Nothing might be plain to us but we have two things on our side. Our honesty with God about who and how we are is one. And Jesus is the other. When we can’t see him at all clearly we can rest assured he sees us, always see us. And if we let him gaze on us he will slowly teach us how to see him true, in all his unfamiliar joy.
St. James compares the word of God to a mirror reflecting back our likeness. Well, Jesus is our mirror—as we see him, in his eyes we see ourselves.