In today's Gospel, we meet a man who had been blind from birth. Let's take some time this week to meditate on a few points from the story.
1. Jesus' disciples ask a very important question. Seeing the man who had been blind from birth, they wonder who had sinned, the man or his parents. They are expressing a typical Jewish belief, that anything negative in a person's life must be the result of sin. Jesus corrects that assumption when He tells the disciples that no one sinned. The man's condition has a positive aspect. He had been born blind so that God's glory may be manifested through his healing.
2. Jesus is the light of the world.
3. Jesus' method of healing the blind man is earthy, incarnational, sacramental. He uses the things of the world, dirt, saliva, and water, to open the man's eyes. Of course, the real cause of the man's healing is Jesus' power, but it is a power channeled through physical things.
4. Pay attention to the healed man's growth in faith. As the story progresses, he moves from describing Jesus as the “man” who had healed him, then as a prophet, then as a man of God, and finally, as the Son of Man, the Messiah, Whom he worships.
5. Jesus heals the man on the sabbath, which annoys the Pharisees, who follow the letter of the law to excess. Jesus, on the other hands, puts people before rules.
6. The Jews dispute the identity of the healed man. Some say that he is the blind man who used to beg, but others maintain that he just looks like the beggar. The healed man clearly asserts who he is and what happened to him, but some people still don't want to believe. Their hearts remain closed.
7. The Pharisees bring in the man's parents to identify their son. They do so, but they refuse to speculate about how he was healed or who did it. They make it very clear that their son can testify for himself. They just don't want to get involved because they are afraid of being expelled from the synagogue. Their response is a bit strange really, for as parents, they should be rejoicing that their son can see rather than worrying about other people's opinions and controversies.
8. The Pharisees question the healed man again and again. Finally, he gets a little tired of it and remarks that it is truly an amazing thing that these Jewish leaders can't tell that Jesus is from God. After all, it is unheard of that anyone should open the eyes of a man who had been blind from birth. For the man, that is enough proof of Jesus' holiness.
9. The Pharisees throw the man out of their presence, telling him that he was born totally in sin and therefore shouldn't dare to teach them anything. Talk about arrogance!
10. Jesus finds the man and reveals Himself to be the Son of Man, the Messiah. The man believes immediately and worships Him. His faith is strong and secure.
11. Jesus says that He came into the world so that the blind might see. Those who think they see, however, who are not humble enough to admit that they don't know everything, are the ones who are truly blind.
12. The Pharisees, of course, take offense at this, but Jesus makes His point very clear. If the Pharisees insist that they see, that they are the ones who know who Jesus really is (i.e., not at all a man from God), then their sin remains. They are truly blind.