Healing of the Blind Man by Jesus Christ. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The fourth Sunday of Lent relates the episode in St John’s gospel of Jesus healing the man born blind. This powerful story has many interactions – between the Pharisees, onlookers, the blind man, his parents. Many fingers are pointed in accusation in many directions, it is easy to lose the meaning of the incident and end in a muddle.
The heart of the matter is described accurately by the fox in Antoine de Saint-Exupery novella The Little Prince who confides in his friend The Little Prince that it is only with the heart that one sees rightly.
The story is simple, Jesus is travelling and meets the blind man and rubs mud on his eyes. Then he tells him to go and wash the mud from his eyes. The blind man does so and he is able to see for the first time in his life. This miracle gives him a profound connection with Jesus.
Barbara Reid writes in her commentary Abiding Word – Sunday Reflections for Year A, ‘ the blind man moves from not knowing Jesus, to recognising him as a prophet, a man of God, the Son of man. In the end he worships him as Lord’. His progression is similar to the reading in last Sunday’s gospel where the woman who meets Jesus at Jacob’s well, comes to believe in him because he speaks with her personally and deeply, heart speaks to heart.
In the gospel, the arguments that surround the miracle of the blind man being able to see, between the Pharisees and the onlookers, the questions asked of his parents who are too wise to make a decision, and the blind man, lead to a serious downgrade of the miracle finally. After all, it is against the law to work miracles on the Sabbath day.
The blind man is unmoved by the claims and counterclaims, he knows clearly what has happened to him, Jesus has healed him, nothing else matters. He knows what his heart tells him, Jesus must be Lord. Only a blind man can see God working in the world.
We take this gospel story to heart in a metaphorical sense’’, we are blind and cannot see until Jesus opens our eyes and we start to see the world through his eyes.
When we become people of faith and we see life through the Lord’s eyes, we are able to see the presence of God acting in the world. Wherever a person helps someone we are able to see the presence of God there. It is what Jesus described as the ‘reign of God’s kingdom’.
The irony in this gospel incident is that a wonderful miracle occurred but no one is happy about it, the miracle is the cause of dissension and annoyance. Only the blind man remains calm and speaks his truth,’ I was blind and now I can see’.
The Pharisees are taken up with the implications of this miracle, the blind man rejoices. He is an example to us.
Columban Fr Gary Walker is currently living at the Columban house in Sandgate, Brisbane.