St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
Look Up


There is a story of a man who always walked around with his eyes on the ground in front of him.  He never looked up, but always down.  Because of his vigilance this man would frequently find a coin here and there that had been dropped and overlooked by others.  Throughout his life he collected a couple hundred dollars in this way - but because he never looked up, he did not see the beauty and glory of God’s creation, the trees, the sky, the sun and stars, the mountains, the birds and most especially the faces of his fellow men.  Although he gained a few extra dollars, he was impoverished in soul.

When our Lord and His disciples came across the man born blind, the disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents”.  In this way they showed that they too were in a way going around looking at the ground.  They were certainly moved toward sympathy by the plight of this man, but rather than ask how he could be helped or healed, they only asked whose fault it was, “Who sinned”.  By His reply to their question, Jesus, tried to raise their eyes from the dust and dirt of finding the guilt and sin to the sun and stars and beauty of God’s compassion and His glory. He told them that it was not of concern who had sinned but rather that in this man the glory of God would be shown.  He then demonstrated the great glory of God and healed this man’s blindness, opening the eyes that had never been opened, giving sight where there was none before.  In this way He not only opened the eyes of one blind man, but He also began to open the eyes of everyone who witnessed this miracle to see the glory of God.

Very often we are like the disciples - when we come upon some misfortune or evil in the world or difficulty in our own lives, we focus only on finding out whose fault it was that this happened.  We get consumed with discovering whose mistake it was, who did wrong, who is to blame.  Finding the cause and therefore the blame captivates us and we waste our lives looking at the ground, looking through the dirt of sin all the while thinking that we are doing something good, something constructive.  Too often we rejoice when we find the “responsible party” or the “root cause” thinking that now the problem is solved - but in reality finding the cause solves nothing.  Pursuing the guilt of others only perpetuates the sin and leaves us finding lost coins, but missing the glory of God.

In the case of the man born blind, the “cause” was simply that the works of God should be made manifest in him. Blessed are they in whom the works of God are made manifest; who feel them, and use them for their soul's salvation. Blessed is the poor man whom God's mercy makes rich and famous, and he feels this mercy of God's with thanksgiving. Blessed is the hopeless invalid to whom God restores health, and he lifts up his heart to God as his un­looked for and only Benefactor. Oh, how the works of God are seen every day in every one of us! O joy for all those to whom, through these works, God opens spiritual sight, to see the vision of God! Woe to all those who, with hands overflowing with God's gifts, turn their backs on Him and go blindly on following their own dark and vainglorious paths. The works of God are manifested in all of us every day, for God is with us all our days on earth. These works of God in us are for the salvation of each one of us as individuals.

But the works of God in the man born blind were for the salva­tion of many. It was, by these works, truly revealed that God had indeed come down among men. It was, by these works, shown that there are, among men, many more blind in spirit than in body. It was further shown by them how a wise man, given a bodily gift by God, will use it to enrich his soul with true faith. Foreseeing all these fruits of the healing of the man born blind, the Lord said with great joy to His disciples: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." As though to say: leave aside for now the question of who sinned: he or another. It is not important at the moment. If he and his parents have sinned, I have been able, in this moment, to forgive them, taking their sin on Myself and proclaiming them forgiven. All this is now secondary to that which is to be manifested. And the works of God - not one, but many - are to be manifested in him, and will be recorded in the Gospel for the salvation of many. Indeed, the years of suffering by the man born blind will be rewarded an hundredfold.  Indeed the reward for those who suffer for God’s sake, even for a day, is imperishable.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let us look up and see the glory of God.  It is not important to discover “who sinned” or “who is at fault” for here is only the dust of the earth.  It is more important to see the glory of God, to know that God has forgiven the sins of men and has as a result healed us from that which cripples us that we may follow Him, has satisfied our thirst with living water that is His own Spirit within us, has opened our blind eyes that we may see His glory.  Lift up your eyes and see the glory of God.  Do not dwell upon sin, but rather upon He Who forgives sin and wipes it away.  Lift up your eyes  and see that Christ is no longer in the grave, but He is Risen.  Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see that Christ has ascended to the Father and there prepares a place for us that we might live with Him.  Lift up your eyes and see the glory of God!

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