BILINGUAL REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAY
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A) John 9: 1-41 March 26, 2017
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.”
Today we hear a long story of a blind man whose name we do not even know. Probably, what is important is not who that man is, but who the person who opened his eyes is. In the whole chapter 9 of 41 verses, like in a classical theatrical play, we hear the story told in four acts, and a final: First Act: The Rabbi finds a man blind from birth and uses a unhygienic way, mud, to heal him. Second Act: The Pharisees, as Grand Inquisitors, open an exhaustive investigation about the case. Third Act: The new disciple gets a decree of excommunication. Fourth Act: The blind man is also cured of his spiritual blindness. Final Act: A judgment for those who do see and might become blind; and a Great Finale: The Rabbi declares himself as the light of the world.
The presentation stars with a question out of curiosity, and fruit of the Old Testament tradition, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Here Jesus introduces the reason of his sign, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him,” and ends with another question, from the Pharisees, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” and receive Jesus´ answer to their own real blindness, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ´we see´ so your sin remains.”
In Act One, the blind man does not know Jesus and does not ask for healing either. Jesus is touched by the unsighted man´s condition. As he takes the initiative, he establishes the motivation for the cure, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” In Act Two, the several questions the Pharisees ask the blind man, are clearly by no means recognizing Jesus´ good action, but a pretext to condemn him, “Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath.” At first the one who used to be blind identifies Jesus as “the man called Jesus.” When the Pharisees ask for a personal testimony, the former blind says, “He is a prophet,” but still just a human being.
In Act Three, as the cured man keeps his conviction in a man who is from God, as retaliation the Pharisees expel him from their presence. In Act Four, Jesus and the healed man meet again. At this point of a faith process, Jesus asks for a profession of faith: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man´s replay is, “I do believe,” and calling him “Lord,” he falls on his knees and worships him. At this point the man´s eyes are open not just to see Jesus as a man, or only a prophet, but to recognize him as the Lord. In the great finale Jesus stays, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” and makes his judgment, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
In Samuel´s text, in the selection and anointing of David as king of Israel, Yahweh teaches us, “Do not judge by the appearances (…) Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearances but the Lord looks into the heart.”
Lent moves us gradually to the light of Easter. In the Gospel John shows us that Jesus is the source of light, the provider of sight. This is the sixth out of seven signs in the Gospel of John to show Jesus´ character of Messiah. To come to Jesus in faith, is to accept the light; to prefer darkness is to reject him. The blind man follows the process from non-believer to believe. The miracle has also a baptismal connotation, since the washing and the anointing are part of the healing.
The more we get closer to Jesus, the more we get aware of our spiritual blindness and of our sinfulness, and the more we feel obliged to trust him and turn to him, the light of the world. Saint Paul tells us that once we were in the darkness of sin, but now, by baptism, we are in the light of the Lord.