Year A: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Gospel: John 9: 1-41
Today’s Gospel is another sign story which John uses to explore the idea of sight.
For many people of the time, disability was a sign of God’s displeasure - but the disciples were beginning to realise that this was not necessarily so. If illness and disability were a sign that someone was not at rights with God, then why did Jesus spend so much time among them? Surely, if that was “God’s will”, the Jesus would not go against it by making someone well again?
As the story unfolds, though, John draws out some truths about blindness and seeing - and we begin to realise that it is not always as obvious as we might think.
The man has been blind from birth - living in darkness - until he meets Jesus who announces Himself as the “light of the world”. His light penetrates the man’s blindness - and he can see. But it is not only physical sight which is given - he can see beyond the healing to what the healing means.
Following the healing, there was confusion - people were unable to accept what they had seen with their own eyes - and so raised questions about whether the healing was authentic. Perhaps the man hadn’t been blind from birth. How could someone like Jesus who didn’t keep the Sabbath do something like this?
The newly-sighted man stands his ground - he can’t explain what happened - but knows it did - and that it speaks of someone from God - of someone who is a prophet walking among God’s people. At this point, the questions become abuse - what do you know about such things? How can someone like you (a sinner) tell us (the righteous) the truth of what has happened? Not only do they refuse to see - but they also refuse to hear....
For the disciple - and this means us - this story is a challenge. In baptism, we were given a lighted candle as a sign that we were inviting God in to enlighten our minds and hearts to what is true. This means living not only with physical sight - but also using our spiritual sight - and trusting what we see.
We need to develop the confidence of the newly-sighted man - who knows what he has seen - and is prepared to speak of it - even when this means rejection by his community and even his family.... The light of Christ has come into our lives - and we are His witnesses in a world shrouded in shadow.
What does it mean for me?
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