John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17,
So that those who do not see might see by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" - which means Sent -. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is, " but others said, "No, he just looks like him." He said, "I am." They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see." So some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, "What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?' He said, "He is a prophet." They answered and said to him, "You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?" Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered and said, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.
This Sunday, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the Church serves up for our nourishment another beautifully told story of faith from the Gospel of John. It is a story about the light of Jesus, the blindness of sin and humility of faith.
Our Lord proclaims at the start of this story: "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Light is a very rich Christian symbol because it does so many critical things in our universe. For instance, light brings warmth to the world. In our Gospel today, Christ brings warmth to a pretty cold situation.
Regarding the blind man, the disciples are mostly concerned about whose sin had caused his blindness. The blind man's neighbors sit around trying to argue out if the man who could see now was truly the guy who used to sit around and beg.
The Pharisees are focused on proving that either he was not healed or if he was healed, that Jesus was not the one who healed him. There was only one person in the story who seemed to be genuinely concerned about the blind man himself, and that was Jesus. Jesus brought warmth to this encounter, the warmth of true care and concern for a hurting human being.
From our earliest science classes we learn that light is essential for life. Jesus, as God, is the source of all life. Since God alone is the Lord of life, Jesus is also the One who is able to heal and restore life. Once again, Jesus reveals His true identity as the eternal Word by doing what no one has ever been able to do, restore sight to a man blind from birth. As the light of the world, Jesus restores life to a broken and dying world.
Light enables our eyes to see clearly the world around us. Jesus comes into the world to shed light on the most important truths of our world: the very nature and beauty of God, the origin and high destiny of man, and the path that leads home to our Heavenly Father.
The blindness that disturbs Jesus is not physical but spiritual. John, the evangelist, therefore, proclaims throughout his Gospel that the greatest sin is the failure to believe in Jesus. These Pharisees, in fact, are the ones who are blind. Notice how they try to dissuade everyone from believing in Jesus, saying, "This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath." When he is asked for the second time by the Pharisees how Jesus had opened his eyes, the blind man says: "I told you already and you would not listen." Ironically, it is the blind man who "sees" Jesus and comes to a place of deep faith, "'I do believe, Lord,' and he worshiped him."
Ever since the fall of Adam, it has been impossible for us to see God clearly, to follow Him wholeheartedly, to love Him dearly. God's ways appear so foreign to us. Our vision has been clouded, indeed blinded, by pride, selfishness and sin. What is worse, we think that we see clearly and we insist that we do. So we tell God what He should do, what is best for us, what is right and wrong.
Jesus comes in our own day to remove the blindness of pride and restore the sight of faith. "I came into the world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see." Humility, a profoundly critical Christian virtue, because it destroys pride, is necessary for faith in Christ. The blind man, perhaps because of his blindness, was humble enough to believe.
Jesus, during this season of Lent, make me humble. Destroy my pride. Enlighten my mind and heart so that I may look upon you with the eyes of faith, be healed and transformed by the warmth of your love, and allow your light to shine through me into the world.
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