The Jewish leaders didn’t believe the man had been blind and received his sight until they called for his parents. The Jewish leaders asked them, “Is this your son? Are you saying he was born blind? How can he now see?”
His parents answered, “We know he is our son. We know he was born blind. But we don’t know how he now sees, and we don’t know who healed his eyes. Ask him. He’s old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they feared the Jewish authorities. This is because the Jewish authorities had already decided that whoever confessed Jesus to be the [Messiah] would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why his parents said, “He’s old enough. Ask him.”
Therefore, they called a second time for the man who had been born blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner.”
The man answered, “I don’t know whether he’s a sinner. Here’s what I do know: I was blind and now I see.”
They questioned him: “What did he do to you? How did he heal your eyes?”
He replied, “I already told you, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
They insulted him: “You are his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t know where this man is from.”
The man answered, “This is incredible! You don’t know where he is from, yet he healed my eyes! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. God listens to anyone who is devout and does God’s will. No one has ever heard of a healing of the eyes of someone born blind. If this man wasn’t from God, he couldn’t do this.”
They responded, “You were born completely in sin! How is it that you dare to teach us?” Then they expelled him.
Jesus heard they had expelled the man born blind. Finding him, Jesus said, “Do you believe in the Human One?”
He answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have seen him. In fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
The man said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Jesus.
Jesus said, “I have come into the world to exercise judgment so that those who don’t see can see and those who see will become blind.”
Some Pharisees who were with him heard what he said and asked, “Surely we aren’t blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t have any sin, but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
As we’ve seen in a lot of the stories about Jesus, his actions point to something deeper. The story of the healing of the unnamed man is just such a story. There are many layers to it, but let’s focus on a couple.
First, let’s notice that the blindness of the man is a poetic image of the spiritual condition of some people, notably in the story is blindness of the Religious Elite. They were so caught up in the own righteousness - their way of doing things, their way of being - that they couldn’t even see what was happening in their midst.
The same goes for the disciples from the first part of the story. They assumed that either the guy or his parents were in sin because he was born blind. But, as Jesus stated, “now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” Why is that? Because they were able to witness what was going on but some of them refused to accept it for what it really was - G_d’s Realm bursting into this worlds realm. And that’s what happens in this story and ties into the next point.
Like we saw yesterday, the Religious Elite thinks they are beyond reproach. When the healed man explains his worldview of how G_d is working, they reply that he was “born completely in sin!” How dare he teach them anything! Who does he think he is?
This is so sad. I’ve had that attitude before and, when I was humbled, it was a very hard experience. But I wouldn’t have changed it for the alternative.
We see this type of attitude too often in our traditions. Sometimes, people in authority feel that they are beyond reproach. They are the ones with the degrees and have spent many years learning the ins and outs of the religion and it’s Holy Book(s) and the business of running the institution and so on. But, as we see in this story, they can become blind to what G_d is doing right in front of them. Sure, if what’s happening is “politically correct,” that is, if it supports them and their power in some way, then it gets noticed. However, if someone calls them out, the chests puff up, the feathers get all ruffled and they start strutting around like they’re superior to anyone “less than” themselves.
And I’ve seen that, personally.
I think the reading today is trying to get us to see that this can easily happen to us. We have to be on our guard. We have to be careful not to immediately assume that “we” are right and “they” are wrong just because it’s different from what we’re used to. It could be that G_d is doing something new. We need to do what St. John wrote, “Test the spirits to see if they’re from G_d.” If they are, then we need to be open to where G_d is leading us.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC