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The Safety of Shackles

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
©Catholic Online 2005

The Gospel story of the man born blind is a great teacher. Jesus looks upon the man born blind as a child of God. Further, he uses his illness for the glorification of the Father. The Pharisees look at this situation through the eyes of the law. They do not see a suffering man, but, a set of laws that must be followed. Therefore, while Jesus works on an individual level in relation to the dignity of the human, the Pharisees are caught in laws and power structures.

We cannot dismiss the Pharisees so easily, they are doing what they should be doing, discerning the reality of the miracle. Their fear of losing their power poisons their discernment. They claim the miracle is not of God because it breaks the Sabbath, which it does not. Meanwhile, if they say it is of God, then they must humble themselves before Jesus. Those who choose to do that will have their eyes opened. They choose, however, not to do that, for they do not want Jesus in their camp.

This is where everything stands and falls on that simple word, choice. They choose to remain blind, and therefore, they are spiritually blind. The man, in his humility chooses to believe in the miracle for he now sees, so he becomes not only cured physically, he is also cured spiritually. The consequences of everything fall down to one thing "Choice." Woe to those who choose against Christ.


Yet, one of the things to always understand is that the Pharisees do nothing wrong in a sense. They believe the man is a sinner and they take the steps to protect themselves and the people. Their actions are based on protecting themselves from falling into sin and heresy. The problem is they are so much in fear of the consequences of the wrong choice that they live in fear and reverse the fear into badly used power.

Jesus comes to free us from bondage to all things, including fear, disease, worldly oppression. Yet, in order to be freed, we must humble ourselves before him so that he can free us. If we do not humble ourselves we will never be free.

Our obedience to the laws of the Church, the world and of God must be rooted in a lack of fear and must be rooted to the openness to Christ's power in our lives. We have to throw off the shackles of fear: fear of Hell, fear of rejection, fear of retribution, fear of offending others, (That politically correct stuff is a form of bondage. It binds language.) fear of death, etc. We need to open ourselves up to the work of Christ.


Yet we can only do that when we are ready to turn away from those things that can heavily oppress us. We have to be ready not to stand out in a crowd, but to stand out unshackled in a crowd of the shackled. The shackled will fearfully choose away from Christ because life is just so much easier when you are shackled. You have no bills, no responsibilities, no decisions. You have only the pain of bondage. Yet, the shackled who choose to walk out of their chains despite the challenges of life, these are the ones who walk through the valley death without fear, for they are walking with Christ.

The Pharisees choose to be the shackled, they choose to be the big fish in the small pond. The blind man chooses sight over his blindness, Christ over the shackles of the Pharisees' tyranny.

What do we choose?

Remember it is easier to be shackled than to be free. Yet, the shackled are on the road to death. The Pharisees do not know it but they are living in the last decades of the temple and Jewish political state(until 1946). They are on the road to death. The man born blind finds eternal life.


What choice are we making in our life to reject shackles? Do we choose the shackles of human wisdom or freedom in the light of Divine truth? Do we choose the shackles of following the law without rooting ourselves in a relationship with God in his community? Do we choose the shackles of career over the life-giving call of the family? The tyranny of abortion over the freedom of being part of God's gift of life? The death penalty instead of seeking to bring the hope of conversion even to the most hardened criminal? The tyranny of a secular spirit of education in our Catholic Schools, or do we insist in an evangelical spirit in our education brought forth by deeply committed Catholics?

All these questions are rooted in one decision. Do we support spiritual blindness or spiritual vision? The Pharisees sought blindness; the blind man found vision. Everything the Pharisees stood for ended when the Temple fell by Roman hands in 70 A.D. Everything Christ brought forth exists to this day. Which choice do you make from here on in your life? The shackles of safety and power, or the freedom of life in Christ?


Catholicism Anew MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 542-5682



blindness, Miracles, Faith

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