They say it happens to the best of us. That moment when you discover that your arm just simply is not long enough, and you cannot pretend that you see the small text clearly. That moment, usually in mid-life, when you discover that you need readings glasses. I was particularly lucky. For all of my life up (until the point when life got even for all the jokes I played on my mother when she first started using reading glasses) I never needed glasses. I could see clearly. And until the arrival of reading glasses, I did not fully appreciate the struggles of those who needed to wear glasses all of the time, let alone those moments when I needed them.
I found myself putting on my reading glasses only to take them off again. I began asking over and over, “Now where did I put my glasses?” I discovered that I had to find a small pair to keep in my pockets for those times when I went out, because I could not always read the text on menus in restaurants. I have become a “true disciple” to the ways of readings glasses.
It is not the first time I have needed to make a concession to age. There was that moment when I was teaching high school students, and realized that an event that I recalled vividly (the resignation of Richard Nixon) was history to the high school students, because it occurred before they were born. There was the moment as president of a high school, at an alumni class reunion where I realized I was older than the parents of the students in the class I taught. It was that moment when I realized that my high school classmates were becoming grandparents. The time when I became aware that my former students were not only having children of their own, but those children were well along in school. Yikes!
Today’s gospel takes an obvious focus upon seeing. When I first started with the reading glasses, I was not aware just how fuzzy things had become. When I put them on for the first time to read, I experienced a clarity I did not know I had missed. In the gospel the blind man had never been able to see. In our lives, we know that we who once were able to see can become blind and not even realize it. The blind man was aware of his blindness and new it needed to be fixed. Do we?
Maybe this gospel reading serves as a time for us to see if we need reading glasses for the faith? Have we lost sight of what Jesus wants to do in our lives? Maybe we once could see, but over time, things not of the gospel have gotten in the way of what we used to be able to see clearly. Do we still look to our faith as the priority to see the world as clearly as we could? Every day, just like he did with the blind man, Jesus asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” Maybe like the blind man, we could ask to see.