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Spiritual Blindness and Deafness

“There are both different degrees of blindness as well as different kinds of blindness. There is physical blindness in which the eyes don’t work well or not at all. There is also a blindness we can choose, as when we live in denial of what is going on around us, or when we refuse to believe truths that others tell us. There is also a spiritual blindness in which either willingly or for other reasons, we either cannot or will not see the spiritual reality which is right in front of us. Jesus accuses the Pharisees of being spiritually blind. However, their blindness cannot serve as an excuse for their wrong behavior, for their blindness is willful and chosen.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Unlike the blind beggar, we often lack a sense of urgency about presenting ourselves to Christ for healing. Perhaps that is because we lack the spiritual vision to see our deepest needs with clarity…Opportunities for distraction are all around us…In an affluent society, we can easily wrap ourselves in a warm blanket of creature comforts…that ease our pains and encourage us to become content with passing pleasures. We easily fall prey to the temptation to exalt ourselves in our own minds in light of whatever status we think we have due to our education, profession, wealth, physical appearance, or other accomplishments and abilities. We may define ourselves according to some national, political, or social identity that we imagine exalts us above overs. We may have accepted our culture’s conventional wisdom that possessions, power, and pleasure are more real than God. We do not lack for opportunities to convince ourselves that spiritual blindness is a problem only for other people or that it is really not a problem at all, even when we are doing nothing other than stumbling around in the dark.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains. The blind man received sight physically, and this led him to see spiritually…the Pharisees, who claimed to possess spiritual sight, were spiritually blinded. The reader might recall Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel and don’t understand these things?” In other words, to receive Jesus was to receive the light of the world, to reject him was to reject the light, close one’s eyes, and become blind. This is the serious sin of which Jesus had warned before (8:21-24). The blindness of such people was incurable since they had rejected the only cure that exists.” (NET Bible, John 9:41)

“There is the story of a famous English surgeon. Lord Moynihan; who was invited to operate before a group of distinguished doctors. After the operation, one doctor asked him, “How can you work so calmly and well, undisturbed by the onlookers?” The surgeon’s answer was, “When I operate, there are just three people in the room: the patient, myself, and God.” The true Christian must feel the very presence of God and the Lord. He must say, “God is here in my heart!” It is when we lose sight of God that we become atheists, alcoholics, adulterers, sinners, misguided and hypocritical followers of God—a God we have lost in the dense fog of our spiritual blindness.” (Rev. Fr. George A. Aswad)

“Matthew writes, “When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’ And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were opened.” The emphasis on the faith and contrition of the blind men in this story makes it clear that it is not just about physical healing. The spiritual clarity of these men—their ability perceive the things of God—was also restored. Spiritual eyes are what enable a person to see a clear path through the problems of this world, however personal, insidious, or mundane these problems and temptations might be.” (Douglas Cramer)

“[Spiritual] Blindness narrows our options. Which of us can say that he sees clearly all that is coming toward him in life? We do the best we can to discern what may happen, surviving where we are, using what we have, making do with what we hear….there is a dimension of life we miss by living outside our hearts. This dimension contains the things of the Spirit, and most of us remain blind in that all-important realm.” (Dynamis 12/28/2020)

“Before He restored the man’s sight [John 9], our Lord Jesus told the disciples that spiritual blindness is worse than the physical kind. Worse in two ways: First, at least the sightless in this lifetime will be liberated from their impairment after death, and second, that those with perfect vision too often fail to realize that they are walking about as spiritual ghosts. They are dead to God, yet they take it as normal. They live on earth as though they were already in Hades, yet they ignore or mock their plight. The Greek word for hell, or Hades [adees] means “without a view.” In modern jargon, “clueless.” The people walking in darkness haven’t a clue what they are missing by rejecting or ignoring the gift of spiritual illumination that comes by following and looking into the face of the Son of God.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)

“…multitudes of people are spiritually blind.  In one sense, it is nobody’s fault; we were all born that way.  And unless our eyes have been opened through the Holy Spirit and holy baptism, we remain that way.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)

“ So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. (Luke 8:23)…Jesus encounters a blind man, but instead of making a big spectacle of the cure in the middle of town, he leads the man away from the crowds…[an] unusual feature of this healing is that the cure is progressive and not magically instantaneous. At first thing are still blurry, and only after a second laying on of hands does he see everyone clearly. But it’s the messiness of the cure that is most striking. Jesus spits on the man’s eyes…We are accustomed to miraculous quick healings in the gospels, but perhaps this is a more true to life picture of the way Christ heals our spiritual blindness over a lifetime. Gradually, quietly, privately, repeatedly, messily.” (Fr. John Jillions)

“The term “know” in Greek is derived from the verb for seeing. To “know,” therefore, is “to perceive”... In this case, “seeing is knowing”… to know the Lord, He must stay with us, and we must spend time with Him. In this vein, Jesus said,  “Abide in me and I in you” (John 15:4). The Greek word “abide” refers to staying in the same place, condition, hope, or relationship... When the Lord dwells in our hearts, and when we reside in His, then we can bear abundant fruit for Him (John 15:4). Yet, this mutual indwelling is also the way that we can know Him with spiritual perception. Abiding is not a one-time or sporadic activity. It is a continuous state that fosters our growth in the knowledge of Christ. Such development requires that we spend time with Christ in prayer and devotion.” (Fr. Basil) 

He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” (Isaiah 6:10)… According to St. John Chrysostom, Isaiah's prophecy does not mean God causes spiritual blindness in people who would otherwise have been faithful. This is a figure of speech common to Scripture revealing God as giving people up to their own devices (as in Rom 1:24, 26). What is meant by He has blinded is that God has permitted their self-chosen blindness...” (Orthodox Study Bible, John 12:40)

“In Scripture, a mystery is a truth God has revealed or will reveal at the proper time (Rom. 16:25–26). Jesus apparently used parables for several reasons. First, they are interesting and grab the listener’s attention. Second, such stories are easily remembered. Third, they reveal truth to those who are ready spiritually to receive it. Fourth, they conceal truth from those who oppose Christ’s message. Frequently Jesus’ opponents failed to understand the lessons because of their own spiritual blindness.” (Foundation Study Bible, Mark 4:11)

“C.S. Lewis illustrates spiritual blindness wonderfully in his book The Last Battle which is the last book his series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The hapless dwarfs choose to look out only for themselves during the destruction of Narnia, repeating constantly “the dwarfs are for the dwarfs” and staying in darkness and spiritual blindness. Even though Heaven was available to them and Jesus, in the form of Aslan the Lion, was standing right next to them, reaching out to them and ready to accept them at any moment, they could not see Him or heaven. They embodied a self-centeredness and mindset that made it impossible for them, by their own thoughts, choices and actions, to be reached, even by God.” (Sacramental Living)

“…we live in a culture that places priority on the technological acumen offered by our secular universities and colleges. The belief is widespread that education will solve all problems, since society’s maladies are the result of ignorance. This dangerous notion does nothing to address mankind’s ills. Indeed, our belief in the “solution” of education blinds us…Contemporary culture, however, has lost touch with true spiritual life. We see increasing disorder in the conduct of business, community affairs, and personal morality.” (Dynamis 7/5/2018)

“Christ is the light that cures all spiritual blindness. St. Paul could see clearly physically but not spiritually. He thought he was doing the right thing. It took physical blindness to truly open his eyes to see spiritually the truth of Christ. Sometimes it takes a jarring experience before we began to see the way Christ wants us too but it always still our choice.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“If we are awaiting the day when God will prove Himself to us, we fail to notice that He has been doing just that from the very beginning; our smugness and pride have blinded us to what has always been there.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Doubt doesn’t become a spiritual disease until it’s allowed to make its home in your heart and blind you to the evidence of God’s goodness all around you.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“…here is a distinction here between God’s active will and His permissive will. God does not blind us with the active intent of preventing our right perception…However, He does permit us to resist Him – to say no to His will. In such a case, we blind ourselves.” (OCPM 5/24/2017)

“Unbelief is a wound of the human heart, a disease of perception, a noetic blindness.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“For judgment I have come into this world” (John 9:39)…Using an analogy from chemistry, we can liken the impact of His words and deeds on men’s lives to a spiritual “reagent.” A reagent evokes a specific response when it is introduced into the presence of other elements. The very presence of Christ precipitates a spiritual reaction in us. The eyes of our hearts may be opened, or they may turn dark in resistance to Him. Our spiritual state determines what our reaction to Christ will be…The bottom line is that Christ comes to save – to give sight, to illumine us. If we persistently prefer our own insights, we will remain blind (vs. 41). Then, at the great and final judgment, we will remain in darkness as a function of our personal choice.” (OCPM 5/18/2017)

“Our Lord entered a world burdened by sin, a world marred by strife, war, exploitation, injustice, oppression and spiritual blindness. It was a world that knew very little of the holiness of God. In our contemporary times we live in a very similar environment, but it is also one that is becoming more and more challenging to the life of faith. For some nothing is sacred; nothing is holy. We see an increase of the means and methods of profaning religious faith, language and culture, and the very best qualities and aspirations of life itself for the sake of recognition, fame, and money.” (Archbishop Demetrios of America)

“He [Christ] sees beyond the surface issues of politics and economics, penetrating into matters of heart and soul “that make for your peace.” He sees how sin blinds people, keeping truth “hidden from your eyes.” (Dynamis 12/1/2014)

“Evil desires make the eye less sensitive and blot out the light of Christ’s presence. If you have a hard time seeing God at work in the world and in your life, check your vision. Are any sinful desires blinding you to Christ?” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 11:33-36)

“While any one of us is engaging in destructive behavior, we are incapable of seeing and thinking clearly and fruitfully, and, as such, we are incapable of understanding the nature of our wrongdoing and the causes for its presence and power in our lives. We remain blinded and bound by our actions, which preclude any constructive conversations about them. To talk with an alcoholic who is actively drinking, for example, or with an overeater who is overeating, or a fornicator who is fornicating, is a waste of time and energy that cannot possibly bring fruitful results. The first talking, therefore, and the first goal of counseling, always has to do with actions, not attitudes. It is about behavior, not beliefs.” (Father Thomas Hopko)

“To say that God turns away from the sinful is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind." (St. Anthony the Great)

“Some religious people are spiritually blind, while those who have never been in a church are sometimes the most responsive to God’s message…Ultimately, with the truth of God we are able to overcome the deceptions and spiritual blindness of our world…” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 10:18-20, Archbishop Demetrios of America)

“The dullness of our vision often hinders us from seeing the Lord’s presence in the relationships and situations we encounter every day…” (Dynamis 8/5/2015)

“There is only one way for people to confront themselves and that is through silence. All of us need to develop a tolerance for silence, a home to ourselves, a place to touch the wellsprings of life inside of us. There is nothing as valuable as silence. All of us must go back and be in touch with our inner resources.” (Thomas Merton)

“We, too, refuse to be still. We say, in effect,"No! I need to go on the internet and my smartphone. I need to work on my many good projects. I need to talk with friends and plan good things. I will schedule my day with beneficial projects and even church-related work. But, Lord, I’ll tell you one thing: I will not be still.” Okay, but we pay a high price for not being still…So, what happens when we are still? We can begin to listen to the voice of God…The human heart is open to the voice of God when in silence and solitude.” (Albert S. Rossi, Abbott Tryphon)

“We"hear” God in our hearts. We know God through our hearts. We can’t hear properly amidst too much busyness and noise. That is why the Psalmist says ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10). Busyness and noise not only dull our hearing, they also dull our sight. Christ said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’ (Matthew 5:7). We can’t obtain purity of heart without cultivating silence and stillness thus we run the risk of being both spiritually deaf and blind.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

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