Fourth Sunday of Lent | Year A

Posted on March 17, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

Spiritual blindness often has ideological roots and rational presuppositions. The Pharisees were so sure of everything—that God did not heal someone on Sundays; that Moses was God’s only spokesman, that anyone born blind had to be a sinner. To illustrate:

Two psychiatrists were talking and one asked the other, “What was your most difficult case?”
His colleague answered, “Once I had a patient who lived in a pure fantasy world. He believed that a wildly rich uncle in South America was going to leave him a fortune. All day long he waited for a make-believe letter to arrive from a fictitious attorney. He never went out or did anything. He just sat around and waited.”
“What was the result?” asked the first psychiatrist.
“Well, it was an eight-year struggle but I finally cured him. And then that stupid letter arrived…”
His disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.

We, as humans, need to feel that our situation has meaning. The man was healed by Jesus, but he was kicked out of the community. He could see, but his stigma remains. But now it’s part of his story and testimony.
As Gianpiero Petriglieri, a professor at INSEAD business school, said: “There’s some pain that needs a solution, and some pain that needs a story.”

Source: Gianpiero Petriglieri in “The key to loving your job in the age of burnout” by Cassie Werber, April 7, 2019. Quartz.

You have a story to tell.

To illustrate:

A veteran missionary introduced himself to Roland Allen and said, “I was a medical missionary for many years in India. And I served in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they matured.”

But this missionary had developed a process which would arrest progressive blindness. So, people came to him, and he performed his operation. They would leave realizing that they had been spared a life of blindness because of this missionary.

He said that they never said, “Thank you,” because that phrase was not adequate for such a healing in their dialect.

Instead, they spoke a word that meant, “I will tell your name.” Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness.

[Source unknown].

The pool of Siloam in John 5:7 was found to be an extensive reservoir through which a subterranean canal flowed–the name of the pool in Hebrew is “sent”. And the story of the blind man appears in early catacomb art as an illustration of Christian baptism. The sacramental miracle of Jesus spitting saliva, mixing it mud and then paste it on the man’s eyes is like the matter and form of a sacrament (John 9:6). In those days, saliva was said to have therapeutic effect, and its curative effect was a widespread belief. We are sent by our baptism and confirmation to tell others about how Jesus opened our eyes.

The Pharisees would not even grant the healed blind man the validity of his individual experience. He sees while the Pharisees go blind.
Application: Too often the deeply subjective spiritual experiences in our lives have to be celebrated alone, but we are not alone with God.