It started so quietly with reports coming out of China of a virus that was rapidly spreading through that nation. Then it moved into South Korea and other nations in the area before making itself felt throughout the world. Quickly, the planet was in the grip of the coronavirus that had no cure, as of yet. It became the only thing reported on network news, sometimes in a dramatic fashion. Fear grew as quickly as the virus had spread leading to long lines at supermarkets, shortages of hand sanitizers and other products as people began to hoard. Restaurants, bars, sporting events, schools, and even churches were shut down as a way of stopping the spread of the virus.
As the panic and fear grew, so did the darkness. Fights broke out over toilet paper and other necessities. Lines formed at gun stores as people feared a breakdown in society and looked for a way of protecting themselves and their families. People lost sight of others while trying to protect and provide for themselves and their families. Blindness is not limited to the loss of physical sight. Fear and panic also result in blindness, even to the point that God cannot be seen. The world became very dark and hopeless to many individuals.
How well this Sunday’s gospel speaks to the world this year. The scene described by John seems so dark with a blind man. Religious leaders choose blindness by their refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, who brings sight to the man. In the midst of this darkness Jesus proclaims , “I am the light of the world.” (John 9: 5). He brings light to the blind man who “sees” Jesus better than His closet followers when he says. “I do believe, Lord, and he worships Him.” (John 9:37). He refuses to be intimidated by the religious elite who are blinded by their empty knowledge, arrogance, and false piety. This man, who has received his sight and been brought into the light of faith by Christ, refuses to slip into the darkness again, even if it means his expulsion from the Temple. He continues to proclaim his belief in Jesus. For this man, the darkness has been conquered by the One who is the light of the world and he lives in that Light.
The strength of faith is demonstrated not only in moments of ease and a feeling that life is good. Faith is powerful in the face of darkness, the unknown, a strong force or person. Like the man whose sight was restored by Christ, this type of faith is gutsy in its trust and refusal to be silenced or mocked. It enables people to see the Christ who is always present to His people, living that vision, especially in the times when darkness and fear seem overwhelming. Faith believes and lives that “what came to be through Him was life, and this life is the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:3-5).
This was brought home to me in a visit to Walmart last weekend. As I was leaving the store, I started talking with an employee who was checking bags and receipts. She said “The Lord is looking down on us and saying, “Those fools. Don’t they know I’m still with them and they don’t need to be afraid.” Her words were simple, to the point, challenging, and powerful. She was witnessing to the Light. The darkness could never overcome her faith that she showed through her words and life. There have been other moments similar to hers when people, living the light of Christ, have pierced the darkness of fear and uncertainty and opened their eyes to the needs of others and reached out to them.
All this does not mean not taking the proper care and needed precautions called for by those in the medical field in confronting the coronavirus. What all this does mean is Christ is with us, as He promised, even until the end of time. He is the true light the darkness can never overcome! A choice then has to be made and an act of lived faith shown. A person can either believe in His promise and live in the light or live in fear and surrender to the darkness.