In this Sunday’s Gospel a man born blind is given the gift of sight through the healing action of Jesus Christ. While this would appear to be the main thrust of the story, there is much more to appreciate about the ‘blindness’ of people in the story. Everyone has limited perspective and could benefit from an encounter with Jesus Christ. We might place ourselves into the story and allow Jesus to cure our blindness, our distorted or limited perspective.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9: 2) Jesus corrects this distorted perspective: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible in him” (John: 9: 3). Perhaps we need a similar change in perspective when we blame other people or God for misfortune. “He only got what he deserved.” “Why is God punishing me?” In the presence of the wise and gentle Christ we can allow Christ to change our perspective into His.
Jesus cured the man on the Sabbath. He could have waited till after the Sabbath since the man had been blind all these years. There was nothing life threatening about his condition. The Pharisees are filled with judgment: “This man is not from God because he does not keep the Sabbath” (9: 16). This act of compassion and love is lost upon these people who have trivialized the law to the last detail. Their limited perspective blinds them to the reality of the person standing before them: The Son of God who is Lord of the Sabbath.
The parents have a perspective that is bound by fear. They do not want to get involved because they are afraid of being expelled from the synagogue if they acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. Their fear is understandable. Our fears are understandable but they limit us nonetheless. In order to move from fear to faith we might turn to Christ who told Jairus: “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (Mark 5: 36). How do we move from a perspective of fear to a perspective of trust? We ask Christ for the grace and we place our confidence in Him. Like forgiveness, trust is often beyond our human capacity. It is a grace and it comes from Jesus Christ.
The man born blind is on his own journey to faith. When the authorities question him, he defends Jesus saying that what he does know is that he was blind and now he can see. He refuses to make the convenient judgment that Jesus is a sinner. But he still has a way to go. He is moving toward faith. He defends Jesus as a man sent from God. For this he is expelled. He pays a price for his honesty. Sound familiar?
Now the true healing, the true miracle takes place. Jesus seeks the man out after hearing of his expulsion. Their conversation is life-giving. “’Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered: ‘Who is he, sir, that I might believe in him?’ Jesus said to him: ‘You have seen him and the one speaking to you is he.’ He said: ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshipped him” (9: 35 – 38).
What a marvelous change in perspective. Now the man born blind could truly see. Have you had a conversation like this with Jesus recently?
Rev. James M. McNamara