We also have different kinds of eyes. We have our physical eyes of course. Mine struggle. I have been shortsighted since childhood, and now the way in which my different muscles tire causes problems with focus that are hazardous if I drive for any length of time. Yet I am so blessed to see as well as I do and often I can share the beauty of what I am seeing with others. Jo and I have over the years learnt not to argue about whether a particular colour is a shade of blue or a shade of green! Our eyes simply interpret that colour differently. We see different things with our physical eyes according to our ability and according to what we are looking for or expecting to see.
Which brings us to our thinking eyes. What we see and how we interpret it is governed to a large degree by our education and upbringing. This has huge implications in areas such as race, gender and sexuality. For example it was not until blind auditions, were introduced to some of the world's greatest orchestras, in which the musician could not be seen, that female players especially of brass instruments, began to find an equal place alongside their male counterparts. Physically seeing a woman take the stage with a tuba for example caused the adjudicators to assume a lack of competence based on a prejudice that actually deafened them to their ability. Our thinking eyes can deceive us and we may need to be made blind, in order to see. The Pharisees and most people in the time of Jesus interpreted physical blindness as an indication of sin. So they were unable to accept the testimony of the blind man or the rightness of his being healed on the sabbath. Their education that the sabbath must never be broken, blinded them to any other possibility. We can think I am sure of modern examples of where, as religious people, we find it hard to see past our previous set of interpretations of scripture in order to set ourselves or others free.
Which leads us to our spiritual eyes. We see inwardly, both ourselves and others. Our life of prayer deepens our inner seeing and has the potential to take us always to a place of love. God holds us and all that is in an embrace of love. We can see that embrace and be joined to it, made one with Christ in that embrace, if we are willing to allow God to open the eyes of our hearts. It requires trust and time. It is a matter of slowly becoming who we truly are - as Jesus will pray later in this Gospel, 'that they may all be one. As you Father are in me and I in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe.' In the name of Christ, Amen.
by Penny Jones, for Lent 4 Year A, Sunday 26 March 2017