ON our way to Easter and our baptismal renewal in connection with it, we are invited to meditate on the miracle of Jesus opening the eyes of a man born blind (John 9:1-41). The significance of the incident lies for us in the reactions, provoked by the miracle, that amount to an illustrated discourse on the journey toward faith as a person discovers Jesus as the light of the world.
The light for everyone
The very introduction of John’s gospel describes the coming of the Word of God into the world in terms of the light that enlightens everyone but is opposed by darkness (1:5. 9-10). In accord with this mission of his, Jesus cured the blind man. The traditional, simplistic attribution of suffering or sickness to someone’s sinfulness, therefore ultimately to a punishing God, is now challenged by the new experience in and through Jesus of the God who makes His gentle love and mercy palpably visible in our human malfunctions and brokenness.
As light travels, it penetrates the darkness so-to-say, layer after layer, in some places successfully but in others the resistance can be impermeable. The blind man’s world of darkness was pierced through when Jesus appeared in it as “the light of the world” and the ensuing reactions and questions brought him to the gradual realization of who Jesus is to him. At first for him the one who opened his eyes was “the man called Jesus,” then upgraded to “a prophet”, next to someone he would not call a sinner because definitely “from God.” Finally, after all the grilling and ridicules he was subjected to, Jesus again approached him and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man he has seen and the one actually speaking to him. The man replied “I do believe!” and worshipped Jesus. Full inner light has come to him and he wholeheartedly received “the light.”
Holding on to the light
The man had to confirm that he was indeed the one born blind and now seeing. He did not deny the past, but he would not deny the present either which would empty his future. Efforts to make him denounce Jesus met his unyielding and child-like resistance. Under persistent interrogation, he stood firm on his experience of the miraculous and refused to speculate beyond the obvious that it was a divine blessing. His parents’ decision under intimidation to make him speak for himself might have even given him a boost. With amazement he observed all the excitement and discussion generated by his cure, and innocently inquired if the learned people questioning him might be interested to become followers too of Jesus. For standing up for his faith, the man ended up expelled from the synagogue.
The Pharisees, who see better and know more about divine law, badgered the man who was a beggar to make him speak against Jesus. But with all their sophistication they could not browbeat the man into saying what he knew to be not the case.
The openness of the man born blind contrasted paradoxically with the blindness of the Pharisees. In their religiosity of fixed and unyielding ideas, they lived in a world of shadows that could not handle the real, both human and divine. And they judged everyone, even God, according to the measures of their willful, hence sinful, blindness. Typically, their tool is intimidation, and when frustrated, abuse and insult, and physical exclusion.
Alálaong bagá, there is really that much darkness in the world. “Not seeing” is a characteristic human condition. But as on the first day of creation, God brings light out of darkness (Genesis 1:1-5). Faith in Jesus ends the darkness for humankind. In baptism where we become existentially linked up with Jesus in the context of God’s saving love, we are given the lighted candle to symbolize our new life in the light that is Jesus Christ. And it is this rebirth in the light that Lent prepares us to renew in our Easter celebration. For us to live is to welcome the light, to flee darkness, and as vision is present, to follow the illuminated path of Jesus’ Gospel.
Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.