Did you know when Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb many years ago, it took him over 2,000 trials before he got the bulb to work? A news reporter asked him how it felt to have failed so often. Edison replied, "I never failed. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process." With that invention of his, our world changed dramatically. We can light up the darkness and extend our activity around-the-clock without lighting a fire or a kerosene lamp.
There is an "exterior" darkness in nature when sunlight and moonlight are absent. There is an "interior" darkness in us when we are blind to reality, when we don't see things as they really are. Today's Gospel is about both kinds of darkness: about a man born blind and unable to see, and about Pharisees and bystanders blind to their faults.
Today's Gospel has been read during Lenten services every single year since the first century. Why? Because we need to hear it till we "get" it! In this story, some Pharisees and bystanders are the blind ones. They deny and distort what is clearly evident to their eyes. They deny this man born blind is the same man they've known all their lives. Or they claim he was never really blind. Or they disrespect him because he is not their social equal. When all that fails, they attack Jesus for violating their Law by healing on the Sabbath.
Why do these Pharisees do this? Because they have their own agenda that earns them an interior blindness of mind and heart. They are afraid to admit the healing power of Jesus. If they acknowledge Jesus' power, they might have to change their ways. Fear makes us blind as well, both to our sins and to our talents. Fear makes us shy away from challenges. Fear makes us settle for very little because fear persuades us very little is possible. But that itself is a lie, as Jesus declares: "For those who truly love God, nothing is impossible." Fear leads to many kinds of interior blindness: blindness to the needs of people we love, blindness to our own pettiness and selfishness, blindness to God's generous compassion and unconditional love for us, blindness to the beauty and majesty of God's creative hand. But Jesus heals our interior blindness with the light of faith. With that light, darkness vanishes and we see the truth.
We begin the process, as does the blind beggar in today's Gospel, by opening our eyes to the goodness of God. Thomas Edison worked hard and long to bring physical light to the darkness on Earth. He remained on task despite many obstacles, Working with tremendous patience and perseverance, he finally got that incandescent light bulb to shine brightly. God sends Jesus to us to give us the Light of faith, the Light that dispels our interior darkness of mind and heart and leads us home.
With us, it's much like with Thomas Edison. In the long run, we won't fail. But we too must patiently and perseveringly endure a lengthy trial-and-error period that eliminates our blind spots. Success wont come easily or quickly. But when we stumble, Jesus, God's Beloved One, is there to pick us up and lead us home. Our light will shine! We either believe this or... we remain forever blind!