Walking the aisles of the supermarket will never be the same again. If I spy toilet paper or hand sanitiser on the shelf, I cheer inwardly — and I’m not even buying them! Imagine when things are “back to normal,” and our supermarket shelves are again abundant. It warms the heart just thinking about it!

In the same way — though more profoundly — those of us who frequent Mass have had our lives changed forever. Before, it was easy to take the Mass for granted. It took effort to stop the Mass becoming routine. Sometimes, we may even have viewed it as a chore. But now? You will never view Mass that way again. You know it.

Today’s Gospel is a long one (Jn 9:1-41), with lots of detail, but we don’t know what the blind man experienced during his healing. Was his sight restored instantly? Or, like the blind man in Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26), was it gradual? First seeing blobs, which then resemble trees, which clarify into people. More to my point, was the blind man’s healing painful? If you and I spend a few minutes in a pitch dark room, and then turn the lights on, we experience pain as our eyes adjust. Was that the blind man’s experience too?

Did he hurt like we’re hurting?

We’re in a world of pain right now. Literally. The world is in pain. Social isolation, lock downs, system failures, growing casualties. The world will never be the same. But it’s not all bad. Personally, individually, you and I are seeing things differently. We’re seeing things with more intention. More gratitude. In the midst of pain — because of the pain, not despite it — we’ve received the gift of new sight.

Maybe, hopefully, that is also true on a larger scale. A global crisis like this can arouse humanity’s nobler instincts. Empathy. Humility. Love. The geopolitical fallout may well be very positive. Dare we hope, too, for a turn back towards God?

The times we live in are distressing and sad. Sad for ourselves, for our families, for our nation, for the world. But in the midst of this sadness, we should be very happy too. As St Josemaría Escrivá was fond of remarking, “We love — we should love — the Cross sincerely, because where the Cross is, there is Christ.” The Lord is here with us, in our midst.

God did not author this pandemic, anymore than he nailed himself to the cross. Nonetheless, God has a habit of transforming calamities into opportunities. Already, he has given us the gift of new sight.

Help me Lord, to make the most of this cross. Make me attentive towards my neighbours. Make me a means by which their burdens are lighter. Lord, help me to see. “Domine, ut videam!”