The two men in today’s gospel who begged Jesus to restore their sight cannot have found life easy once their request had been granted. (Matt 9.27-31) We might speak today of ‘sensory overload’ and the challenge of relearning social and other skills, but more disconcerting even than that must have been the consciousness of a miracle, a miracle wrought in their own flesh. Sometimes prayer works like that. Our blindness is suddenly lifted and everything changes: we see, and with the new-found vision comes a new set of imperatives that makes our old life seem unreal, unworthy. We see gossip and scoffing for what it is, a destructive misuse of speech; the cleverness we used to applaud is revealed in its true colorus as scheming and trickery. (cf Isaiah 29.17–24) Such knowledge can be overwhelming and lead to despair unless we keep our eyes fixed on the Holy One.
This morning I am conscious of the fact that all the world’s pain and its tragedies has a human face. I happened to be at Didcot Parkway yesterday when a middle-aged woman threw herself in front of a freight train and was killed.* It was terrible for the rail staff, the paramedics, the police, everyone involved on the outside, so to say, but most terrible of all for the person on the inside, the woman herself. It is impossible for anyone who has not experienced it to know the loneliness and hopelessness she must have felt. Was it a sudden impulse, a moment of blind panic and desperation, or something wrestled with for ages to which she at last succumbed? Who knows, and what does it matter, anyway? Someone has died, a unique and irreplaceable human being and, whether we know it or not, we are all the poorer for her loss. This morning I trust we can all pray that her blindness will soon be lifted and she will gaze on the face of Christ in all its beauty. Let us pray also for those who mourn, for whom the darkness has just become a little bleaker, a little more profound.
- The woman has not yet been formally identified although the police believe her to be Deborah Yalcin who went missing yesterday morning. Her death is still being investigated although it is being treated as not suspicious.