Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A
The blind man’s story is the story of the spiritual life. The man is blind since birth. How many of us feel as though we are blind in some way? Spiritually we are all born blind. We are born into a dysfunctional world, blind to the reality of God, unable to see God’s presence, and we are marked by sin, cruelty, violence, pain. We can find ourselves born into the darkness of the world. And who is Christ? Christ is the light that shines in that darkness, the healer of blindness. So when Jesus sees the blind man what does he do? *Hack poi!* he spits into the ground and makes a paste of dirt with his spittle and rubs it into the man’s eyes. You cannot get more in your face than that. St Augustine observed that in this moment God incarnate mingles his divinity with the dust of the earth; here divinity and humanity meet. Christ tells the blind man to wash and the blind man’s sight is restored, now he is reborn as we are reborn through the waters of baptism. “I once was blind but now I see” - when we are restored to God, we see our reality anew.
The funny and tragic thing is the reaction of others when they see this blind person whom they have known since birth with his sight restored. ‘Oh it can’t be so-and-so, it’s just someone that looks like him.’ How do people react when someone new converts to the Christian faith? ‘It can’t be them, surely.’ ‘I don’t really recognise this person, they have changed.’ The changes can be perceived in both ways, positive or negative. A massive part of this Gospel is the negative response, the rationalising and argument back and forth over what has happened. A miracle has just happened but the people around the miracle cannot believe it. They are blind to the reality in front of them because they refuse to believe in anything outside of their own understanding. They refuse to acknowledge that God is at work here, caring for this lost soul who has wandered in the darkness all his life. The restored sight of the blind man is not celebrated by the community, on the contrary he is scorned, abused and driven away. How many of us feel this way as Christians? When the scales are lifted from our eyes and we see the reality of our existence before God, the world does not believe us and we find ourselves driven away. But Jesus finds the man who had his sight restored and who now sees the world in all its beauty and colour, understanding the wonder and miracle of his existence. Jesus reveals to him and to each of us that that he is the saviour. He is the ultimate good who completes who we are. How do we respond to such divine love and intimacy when we come face to face with Jesus? The only correct response to the startling revelation that God is with us is worship.
Fr William Loh, O.P. Chaplain for Monash University.