ABOUT BLINDNESS AND VISION – Иверский Орский женский монастырь



Sermon for the Sunday of the Blind Man



The Lord told him, “Be healed,” and he became healed. Sometimes the Lord uses other forms. Why? Why couldn’t He simply say to this man the same words He said to the man who was lying near the pool of Siloam? “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”1 Suddenly, the Lord uses the form: He spits, makes clay with the saliva and anoints the eyes. The almightiness of God does need a form. He can say something and it will be. However, He does it for the sake of the fact that we live and think in the format of this world and because we are formed, we have a shape. Everyone of us has a form.   He does this because He does not want to be absolutely unintelligible and unfathomable for a coarsened human who exists in the format of this world. As Saint Gregory Palamas said that the essence of God is unfathomable and a human can in no way fathom it. We cannot understand WHAT God is, what He is like and we can either determine or perceive Him. This is why, not to be absolutely unfathomable for people, God enters the format of this world Himself the way known only to Himself.    

For example, we have just received the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. God could simply enter us spiritually but He takes up a form of bread and wine and gives us His Body and Blood in this shape. He does this all for the sake of a human who goes by this. Of course, a venerable person, such as Saint Symeon the New Theologian, who has attained the state of contemplation and who goes beyond the format of this world, he perceives God without a shape, he experiences Him in a different way. But this “different way” is unfathomable for us.  We cannot understand the measure of Saint Paul the Apostle who says, “I was in the Heavens and saw it. But I cannot describe all this to you, as I will have to give you earthly examples but what I saw was not of earth. Yes, I heard something there but I cannot communicate this to you because again I will have to give you some earthly analogies but everything is so different there. You can see and feel and understand everything in a different way there.”   

Nevertheless, this is for those people who have stepped so high that they do not need a shape any more. They can pray without icons, they can pray the way… as the Lord says to the Samaritan woman, “The times will come when you will pray in the Spirit, and not in Jerusalem or on that mount of Gerizim. You will not need a form any more.”2 But we are too formed, too fleshy, too earthy, and the Lord descends to us for our sake to take us by the arm and pull us gently to the place which is beyond any form.   

There is another extremity when people attach themselves to a form too much and lose the contents. Let us take a look at today’s Gospel again. What will we see there? The Lord heals the man who was blind from his birth. As it is said in the Gospel, no one has ever heard about such things. I can understand when at the Clinic of Professor Feodorov they operate on the eyes which still have life in them. But what if there has never been vision at all? It seems one should only be amazed at this event and be in awe but we see the Old Testament Pharisees and Lawyers who attached themselves so much to the form that they have lost the contents, the essence itself.   They say, “It’s Saturday. No one should heal on Saturdays.” O Lord! You should have forgotten what day it is witnessing such an extraordinary event! Look, what has happened! You should not remember if it is a Monday or a Saturday today after this. But they are too attached to the form.  

These were the Old Testament Pharisees and Lawyers. However, even now we have the New Testament Lawyers, who are attached to the form so much that they lose the essence. We execute everything to the last letter of the law without thinking that there is a human behind this law. 

There is a precious state, the state of the middle, a sense of measure. No one can teach this sense, as it is, perhaps, in the heart. The sense of tact, the sense of measure. A person feels. He feels he should not turn either to the right or to the left. He feels the person he speaks to: say less and you will offend him, say more, and he will become offended too. It is very difficult to feel this middle in order to say the right thing and enough of it. With men this is impossible.3 No one can learn this. Some people study this at different psychological courses. They might learn something there. However, this won’t be perfect. This is because they cannot understand that all this does not come from our head, but it comes from our heart. It comes from God.  This is why you should not go to psychological courses where they teach you how to make the better of your opponent, but you should go to church and seek God, Who is this sense, the sixth sense, and Who will be our mind, heart and consciousness. Again, no one can teach you consciousness. If there is no consciousness, where will you take it from?  

O Lord, enlighten us with your Holy Spirit, so we become a little more sober. 

1 Jn. 5:8

2 “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.’” (Jn. 4:21)

3 “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26)