Gospel John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Our readings this morning talk to us about light and darkness. They talk to us about blindness, and they talk to us about sight. Not just physical sight, but spiritual sight.
So one of the questions we need to ask ourselves this morning: How is our spiritual sight? Is it twenty-twenty, or what do we need to do?
In our Gospel today we see the disciples walking with Jesus and they come upon a blind man and they ask, “What did he do? Who sinned? Was it him, or his parents?” Jesus makes it very clear that there was no sin committed here, that there is no relationship between disease and sinfulness. Jesus then went to the blind man, spat on the ground, put mud on his eyes and told him to go to the pool.
Now the man didn’t ask Jesus to do that and we really don’t know what was going on in that man’s mind. He obviously was blind from birth. Did he believe that what Jesus did caused him to see? He probably thought, “It sure can’t hurt.”
But the bottom line is that he went to the pool, took the mud off his eyes, and he could see. Now imagine that. Blind from birth and all of a sudden he can see. He can now see what his parents look like. He can see what a tree looks like. He can see what the dirt looks like. A time to rejoice, but his happiness didn’t last long because too many people were asking, “How did this happen?”
The bottom line is, he was physically cured — a miracle. Probably a greater miracle than this one would be to raise a man from the dead, but beyond that to take a blind man and make him see — what a wonderful thing that is. It shows the glory of God.
But the Gospel isn’t so much about physical healing. It really is about spiritual sight and spiritual blindness. And what is spiritual sight? Spiritual sight is our belief in God. It is our hope in God. It is our relationship with Jesus. It’s how he is to us.
You know, it is interesting when you listen to the Gospel the man didn’t automatically say, after he was healed, “God, I believe.” When you listen to the verse and when the neighbors were asked who cured him, he said, “Well, it was some man named Jesus.”
Later on when he went to the Pharisees, the Pharisees asked him, “How are you able to see?” He answered, “A man put clay on my eyes and now I see.” The Pharisees asked, “Who did this?” And the man said, “Jesus, a prophet.”
Then he is kicked out of the synagogue and Jesus comes to him and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
The man answers, “Tell me who he is so I can worship him.”
And Jesus says, “It’s me.”
The man immediately worships him. He had at that point twenty-twenty vision. He knew who Jesus was and he worshiped him and he gave him glory.
We look at the other people around him; did they have spiritual sight or not? You would think that the religious leaders would have been the most insightful. You would think that they could see as clearly as anyone. But they didn’t. They were blind. They were so stuck to the law and the fact that when he healed someone on the Sabbath, they couldn’t rejoice and celebrate who this man, Jesus, was and what he did for the blind man, and what he can do for everyone.
The question we are being asked today on this Laetare Sunday, on this halfway mark in Lent is: How is our spiritual sight? What is our relationship with God?
You know, a relationship is more than just knowing about — it is important to know about Jesus, and it is important to know about God and the more we can learn the better. But real sight is seen in a relationship with him, and a relationship with each other.
How does a person gain spiritual sight? They first go to that font and they are baptized. And it is through that baptism when darkness is taken away, the light of Christ is brought into them, and they receive the wellspring of water into their body.
Each one of us is a Christ. Each one of us has the light of Christ in us.
Does a baby have the same sight as you have? No, because as with the blind man, it takes time. It takes a development to do that. We look at our second and eighth graders as they prepare for Eucharist and Confirmation. Hopefully their spiritual sight is increasing, and increasing with their knowledge of God, and not just the knowledge but also the realization emotionally of who this Jesus is, and who he is in their lives.
When we look at the candidates and the catechumen of the elect, as they get ready to receive the Easter sacraments — what have they been doing for the year plus? Not only are they learning about the church and about God, but also they are learning about that relationship they need to have with him, and with each other.
Spiritual sight isn’t just me seeing God and God seeing me. It’s me being able to see God and Christ in you, and you seeing God and Christ in me. If we fail to do that, our sight isn’t what it’s meant to be.
We come here on a Saturday night or Sunday morning to glorify God and to thank him for everything that he has done. We also come here to be nourished by the Word. And we come to the altar to be nourished by the Eucharist. We come here to be nourished by each and everyone of us.
If one of you were blind and you came to church here, and all of a sudden you were healed — would we notice? In our Gospel story the neighbor said, “I don’t think I know who that man is.”
Would we notice? Is our sight and our hearing what it needs to be? When we look at what Jesus has done in our lives we see that he came to die for our sins, but he also came to bring wholeness to each and everyone of us. He wants us to be happy. Will we be sad sometimes? Of course. But if we know we have a relationship with him he will be with us every step of the way.
Last week, Jesus made the woman at the well whole. In today’s Gospel, what did he do for the blind man? He made him whole. What he wants for each and every one of us is for us to be whole. So one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is: Where are we in our lives right now? What are our troubles? What are the trials and tribulations we have?
And are we dealing with them alone? Or are we dealing with them with Christ in us.
And are we dealing with them with our faith community here to help and support us?
Because that is really what it is about.
So at this halfway part in this Lenten journey, let us ask ourselves: What is our spiritual sight? Where are we? Do we see each other? Are we praying? Are we alms giving? Are we fasting? Lent is a time to go to the eye doctor and say, “Where are we and what do we need to do?”
You came into church and the purple card reads, “Jesus heals the man born blind.” But there were those who could not see Jesus for who he really was, and could not perceive the truth in his teachings. This spiritual blindness affects all of us from time to time.
What are we not seeing that Jesus is trying to show us? This week let us pray for open eyes and an open mind.
I am going to read you a poem and I want you to put yourself in the place of the child. We can think we have twenty-twenty vision but at the end of the day when we pray, there are many things we can miss or lack if we do not take the time.
A child whispered, ‘God, speak to me.’
And the meadowlark sang, but the child did not hear.
So the child yelled, ‘God, speak to me.’
And the thunder rolled across the sky.
But the child did not listen.
The child looked around and said, ‘God, let me see you.’
And a star shown bright.
But the child did not notice.
And the child shouted, ‘God, show me a miracle.’
And a life was born, but the child did not know.
So the child cried out in despair, ‘Touch me God and let me know you are here.’
Whereupon God reached down and touched the child.
But the child brushed the butterfly away and walked away unknowingly.
This week, let us have our eyes and ears open to all the wondrous things that God has given us. And let us pay particular attention to one another.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.