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January 24, 2021

Sermon on the Healing of the Blind Man of Jericho (Metr. Anthony of Sourozh)

 By Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

13 January 1991

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

As in the days of the ministry of Christ on earth, Saint John the Baptist had been preaching the Gospel of repentance, the good news that repentance, turning to God, always brings us face to face with Him in reconciliation, so does also the Church now, before Lent, face us with weeks of preparation, weeks during which we look at ourselves as deeply as we can, as honestly as we can, before we are confronted with deeds of God, with His power and with the example of those who had truly turned away from evil, given themselves to God, and have found fulfillment and salvation.

And before these weeks begin to prepare us even to this, we remember, as we do today, Bartimaeus, the blind man of Jericho, a reminder that we all are blind, that we all have forgotten how to see the reality of things. He was blinded by illness; we are blinded by the visible; the invisible becomes invisible to us because all that catches our eye prevents us from looking deep, looking into the depth.

The message which is brought to us today is this: we are all blind, and we must learn to see. To see ourselves as we are, both what is evil, imperfect, distorted to us, and also the beauty of the image of God which nothing can erase, nothing can destroy, which may be covered up as an icon may be covered up by dust, but which remain glorious within us. And we must learn to look at ourselves, and discern both good and evil: not only evil, but also that good which can inspire us to struggle, to fight and to overcome all that is unworthy of God.

But we must also learn in these weeks to look at everyone around us and see God’s image in him or in her, forget those imperfections which blind us to the beauty of every person, look deep into each one who is our neighbor, and worshipfully, reverently discover the divine presence, the divine likeness in him or in her.

Only then we will be able to move on to the weeks of preparation which will confront us one after the other with our most common and most destructive imperfections. If we try to look at ourselves, we often feel that we don’t have eyes to see, we have no terms of reference: how can we see? There is a mirror in which we can see both good and evil. Let us, in the course of these days, read with an open mind and open heart, with veneration the Gospel. We will see in Christ what a true human being is; we will see in His teaching what we are called to be and to become; we will see in His apostles, in those who surrounded Him the struggle for perfection. Let us look into the Gospel as one looks into a mirror, compare ourselves with what we see, and we will then discover not only evil but glory. And let us, inspired by it, move on, as Paul says, from glory to glory, turning away from past and rushing towards the fulfillment of our vocation. Amen.