Reflection on the Gospel of John 9:1-41, Fourth Sunday of Lent:  March 19, 2023

The Gospel of John 9:1-41

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Let us Pray A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Lent Loving Creator of mine, I feel the pace quicken, the time draw near. We are filled with joy as we move toward Easter and the promised reconciliation with you. Teach us to follow the example of your Son, to be worthy of being called one his people: a Christ-ian. Help us to live each day as he did turning hatred to love and conflict to peace. I await the new life with eagerness, faith and a deep gratitude. This we Pray in your Name. Amen

Just like this man, each of us who claims the name of Jesus Christ has a unique and personal story. It’s a story about how do you meet Jesus. That story is one of your greatest gifts. You may say “But I was raised in the church, I don’t have a dramatic testimony.” It doesn’t matter. “Nothing exciting has happened to me.” It doesn’t’ matter. Your story is the story of Jesus Christ working inside of you and that makes it important and exciting. You may say “But I don’t have much to offer.” or “I’m nobody special.” Jesus thought you special enough to die for you and to dwell in you with the Holy Spirit. You cannot say that if the Creator of the universe values you so much that you have no significance, or your story has no significance. Perhaps you’ve been told that you’re no good. Perhaps your parents told you you’d never amount to much. Your story is important. Christ approached this man in a unique way and he approaches you in a unique way, and only you can share with others what Jesus has done and is doing in you. Each is a story of healing, each is an answer to the questions: “How do you meet Jesus? how do you respond to him?” They all looked at him, but they never saw him. He was the blind guy. Born that way. Day after day he sat and begged. They looked. They walked by. They wondered. But they never saw. He had never seen their faces until today. He had never seen his own face, his parents’ faces, a sunrise, the stars, his home, a smile until today. Before today it was as if he didn’t even exist. He was a life waiting to be born, a light waiting to shine, a word waiting to be spoken. Today he became a new creation, he was enlightened, he became a living testimony to the Son of Man, but they still don’t see him. For some reason they are unable to see him. Blindness is not about the quality of our vision or the condition of our eyes. It is not about the darkness around us but, rather, the darkness within us. How we see others, what we see in the world, the way we see life is less about the objects of our seeing and more about ourselves. We do not see God, people, things, or circumstances as they are but as we are. Until our eyes are opened by Christ our seeing is really just a projection of ourselves onto the world. What we see and how we see manifest our inner world. They describe and point to the fears, attachments, and beliefs within us. From this man’s story as presented here, we can make several conclusions: Everyone has their unique story of God working in their lives, we don’t know the complete story of what God is doing in our lives and we will encounter opposition as we tell the story of what God is doing in our lives. Finally, we will grow spiritually as we tell the story of what God is doing in our lives. If we wish to see God, life, and others as they really are then we must attend to what is going on within us. True seeing begins in the heart not the eyes. We must begin to acknowledge the fears, attachments, and beliefs that live within us and how they have impaired our vision.

 This Gospel has many lessons for us  Jesus notices even the least among us. As Christians, we have the assurance that no matter who we are, God would still take notice of us. The Bible tells us that not even a sparrow falls down to the ground without God knowing it. He even knows how many strands of hair we have! With this in mind, we can have the comfort that God sees us. He cares for us, and He wants to develop a close relationship with us. He is calling us and it is up to us to answer that call. Our weakness should lead us to God. The man was blind from his birth. He had every reason to shake his fist in the face of God and question his goodness and love. However, what most people think of as a curse turned into a blessing in this man’s life. When asked by His disciples the reason why the man became blind, Jesus answered, so “that the works of God should be revealed in him.” If it hadn’t been because of his blindness, he wouldn’t have encountered the Messiah!  In many cases, those who are well and healthy are the ones who don’t see the need for God. They have a good life already, so why would they need God? However, those who are weak, sick, and in need are the ones who are more likely to encounter God and seek Help greater than themselves! We must endure hardships in life. The main reason we are facing trial, so that we would be perfected and complete. God is preparing us to rule in His kingdom and through tests and lessons in life, we are accomplishing the main purpose of our existence. So, if your life as a Christian is smooth sailing, be prepared because time will come that you will be tested. When that time comes will you have enough faith and courage to endure? Obedience and faith come together. So many people today assumed that all they need to obtain salvation is to accept Christ and believe in Him. They thought that since grace abounds, they can now do whatever they wish as long as they “love” one another. If we are to have faith in God and His Son, we must couple it with obedience. Christ did not simply heal the blind man when he could just immediately do that. It could have been so simple and yet, it is also a teaching moment for all around Him and for this blind man. We must be the light of the world. Before healing the blind man, Christ explained: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Christ is the true Source of Light and we must get our light from Him. As lights, we are not to direct people to us, but to God. It is through our good works that we become lights to this darkened world. We must stop being self-righteous. The Pharisees are the epitome of self-righteousness. They are so self-righteous that they could not see how blind they are to the truth. They resent people who try to teach them. They believe that they know everything and they don’t accept corrections. What a pity it is that a lot of Christians today are filled with the same self-righteous attitude. “Do you believe in the Son of God?” It’s a good question, but it’s still a question with answers that are more than words alone can contain. Faith is so much more than the words we speak. Faith is also expressed by the tear on the cheek, the catch in the voice, the peace that passes understanding, the deep sighs, the shared gaze, the lifted heart, the lamenting soul, the song we can’t stop singing.

So what is your story? Your whole life is God’s handiwork. As you look back, do you see God’s hand shaping your life? Go and share it as often as possible.

Let us Pray: Joyful praise in Lent? I’m not sure I always feel that. I ask you to help me prepare to understand, and embrace the paschal mystery in my life. I don’t always see the beauty and mystery of this season and often I run from the pain. Help me to see how your saving grace, and your loving touch in my life can fill me with joyful praise of the salvation, you have sent to me. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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