From the richness of today’s liturgical readings, let me dwell on just two points for our reflection.
In the first reading, God instructed Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons whom he had chosen to be king of Israel. As each of the sons was introduced to the prophet, beginning with the eldest, Samuel anticipated that such one would be God’s choice. But God did not choose any of them except David, the smallest and the youngest. The Lord told Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature… Not as man sees does God see because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”
This reminds me of the words of the fox to the Little Prince (a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The little prince had travelled across the universe in order to learn how to take care of his rose which was fussy and overbearing. She demanded special care, claiming that she was rare and unique and that no other rose was sweeter and more beautiful than she. When the prince reached earth, he was dismayed to see a field full of identical-looking roses, even bigger and lovelier than his. The fox helped him to see that it was his love for his rose that made her unique to him.
We often remark that an ugly face or a dysfunctional personality is one that only a mother can love. True enough, for only love can make a mother see the inner goodness of her child which others don’t see.
Each of us is a child of God. Thus each of us is special to him. We are called to see each other as God sees us and to recognize that we are all unique and precious because each one of us is personally shaped by his hands, made alive by his breath and redeemed by his blood.
This reality is easy to understand, but its recognition and acceptance is more difficult. It takes a slow and gradual process. Often, what is clear to the mind does not readily sink in the heart. As someone rightly said, the longest journey a man takes is from his head to his heart.
We see this dynamic at work in today’s gospel. Jesus cures a man born blind. The greater miracle however is that Jesus cures the man of spiritual blindness and awakens his faith in him. At the beginning, the blind man sees Jesus merely as “the man called Jesus.” Then, he gradually recognizes him as “a prophet,” later as “a man from God,” and “the Son of Man.” Finally, he believes in Jesus as “the Lord” whom he worships.
The blind man’s journey of faith is slow and filled with obstacles. From the start, everyone (except Jesus) regards him as a sinner (being born blind). The story of his cure is received with skepticism. The Pharisees are bent to discredit him at all cost and heaps him with continuous harassment, personal insults, unfounded judgments and outright rejection. Even his own parents are non-committal in their testimony and defense of him. But the harder he is pressed, the stronger his faith grows.
The story of the blind man is our story, and his journey our journey. The journey of faith is not easy. Jesus appears only twice in the gospel, at the start and in the end. In between he seems nowhere to be found. Sometimes, it also feels like we’re all alone in our journey. But we know from the gospel that Jesus is just around behind every scene and fully aware of everyone’s move. In the end, while we grope for faith in the midst of adversities, Jesus comes to find us. And having been found, we fall on our knees before him. For every journey of faith leads to worship.