Being a slight sci-fi nerd, reading today’s Gospel reminded me a lot of the character Chirrut Îmwe in the recent Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Chirrut Îmwe is a blind man. We barely consider him when we first see him. The main characters – Jyn, Cassian, and the droid K-2SO – find themselves surrounded by a cohort of grumpy Imperial Stormtroopers. How will they escape? Of all people, it is through the blind man, Chirrut Îmwe. We suddenly discover that even though he is physically blind, he has great inner spiritual sight which helps him defeat all the stormtroopers – who are all weaker than him because they, inside, are spiritually blind.
All of this sounds very cool and interesting – and many of the coolest things in sci-fi movies are taken from the bible and the Catholic Church anyway – except that, of course, what happens in today’s readings is far cooler and more interesting.
One reason why is that the blind man in the Gospel doesn’t stay blind. Unlike the Force, Christianity, and the power of Christ, is about healing. Christianity, if it’s working properly, does not leave us unchanged: while we come as we are, God does not leave us as we are, and does not expect us to stay as we are – that’d be despair. Christianity, rather, includes a theological virtue called hope. Christian hope is not just sort of hoping maybe one day life will get better. Christian hope is the certainty that as long as I remain attached to Jesus, there is no situation he cannot change, and that I will certainly, at the time he chooses, be definitively freed of all evil.
A second reason is the light that Christianity shines into our world and into our hearts. St Paul speaks of The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light. It is not by accident that the movie about the coverup of abuse in Boston was called Spotlight, and rightfully so. The Royal Commission has been of great service to those who were hurt, to society, and to the Church in shining a light on these evil things. And if there is anything that this experience has reminded everybody of it is our fundamental duty as Christians to fearlessly shine the light of Christ, the author of all Good, on all and any of the evils in society, be it popular or not. And so our responsibility as Christians to be full of his light ourselves, by professional help when we need it, living the commandments, being healed by the sacraments like the Eucharist and monthly confession, and having a heart filled with the Word of God.
The third reason is this: that Christianity, and Jesus Christ are real. The Force initially seems amazing because wow, little Yoda can lift up a spaceship! But compared to Christianity the Force looks so weak and powerless. Is it something definite? No. Does it use my intelligence as well as my feelings and will? No. Is it a person who knows and loves me? No. Does it exist? No. What can it do? Well nothing. It doesn’t exist. And in fact there are really bad things about it: it is a supernatural force which can be used to do evil and invade people’s hearts and force them to do things against their will. The Holy Trinity can never be used to do evil or manipulate. They can never be used! For the Trinity is only perfect goodness and love, and even the greatest powers of the cosmos depend on it just to exist.
So let us ask the Lord today for the gift of purity of heart: that the fire of his love burn away all the evil and bad intentions we have, and fill our hearts with good and the desire only to do good and to love. Amen.