Along our Lenten journey we are presented with different symbols. Last Sunday we had the symbol of water. Jesus proposed to the Samaritan woman the living water capable of quenching her thirst. And on this 4th Sunday of Lent we are given the symbol of Light. Jesus is the light of the world who enables the blind man to see. He’s proposing us his light.
Help me Lord to purify the lenses of my eyes
Bible readings I Samuel 16: 1, 6–7, 10–13 Psalm 23 Ephesians 5: 8–14 John 9: 1–41
Born blind, always in darkness
The man that Jesus heals has been blind since his birth. It means the whole of his life he has been in the dark. Healed from his blindness now he can see himself, others and things around him. The healing that takes place in this man isn’t just about the opening of his eyes but also his capacity to recognise and welcome who Jesus is. You may have the eyes but in the absence of light you see nothing. This man gains a lot more than just eye sight.
His eyes of faith are also opened. He believes Jesus is a prophet. That’s why, on the contrary, those who have eyes open since their birth in a way remain blind as long as they don’t accept Jesus. They remain in the dark of their obstinate religious ideas and biased look on others. They don’t just get it right. They are blind.
We can ask ourselves, where do I place myself in this story? Am I the blind man in need of healing, disciples, Pharisees or Jesus? In other words, what’s my outlook on myself, on others and on the world around me?
I’m touched by the different lenses that colour the vision of the characters in this Gospel. Let’s look at some of them.
A blind man through different lenses
When Jesus meets this man born blind he sees in him a suffering person who has been reduced to begging. He spares no moment but acts quickly to heal him. I would say, he looks at the man through the lenses of compassion, of love, of humanity….. As for the disciples, we have an idea about their lenses by a moralising question that they pose: “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” For the Pharisees, they look at the man through the prism of law. They don’t rejoice in his well-being. Their concern is whether the law been observed? In fact, they share the view of the disciples, like many others Jews of that time, that suffering or any form of evil is a punishment for sin. That’s why the Pharisee revile the man saying: “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?”
With such kind of attitude, there’s no way they can appreciate his suffering. All that they see is a sinner and so someone to exclude. For that reason it’s important to check our lenses to know the colour they impose on what see. The way we interpret what we see influences also the way we relate with them. Check your lenses, perhaps they might need some rinsing in Siloam.
What kind of look do I pose on others?
Such moralising view on suffering isn’t just a matter of those disciples and Pharisees, maybe ours too. Haven’t you caught yourself exclaiming, oh my God, what have I done to deserve this? When I’m sick or when things don’t just work out I want to trace the sin that may have merited me such mishap. Similarly, we impute responsibility onto those who are in some difficulty. Consequently, instead of showing them our compassion, love and support we judge them. Isn’t that a kind of blindness in us?
Our blindness consists in the bias of our vision. Through what lenses do I look at others: lenses of money, beauty, titles, honours, humanity, love, compassion?
When I see a person, what do I look at: the clothes he’s wearing, to know what could be his profession, to rate his financial situation, to know if he’s better off than I’m?
Eventually, my relationship with that person will most likely be conditioned by whatever conclusion I draw about him. I evaluate the person on the basis of such peripheral things instead of his dignity as a human being. We see such bias and blindness in the first reading.
God does not see as humans see
God sends the prophet Samuel to anoint a new King of Israel among the sons of Jesse. Seeing Eliab, a man well-built, Samuel is convinced he must be the one. But the Lord corrects him: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Apparently, Jesse is also caught in such blindness. He presents seven of his sons and he doesn’t even bother going for the little David. It’s the prophet who asks if there’s no other. Yet, it’s indeed this little shepherd who’s chosen. Truly, we are taken by the outside; God sees what’s in the depth of the person. That’s why we need his light. And the Gospel proposes us such offer.
Lent a journey of conversion
This Gospel is used as part of the steps taken by those preparing to be baptised at Easter. They receive Christ the light of the world that opens their eyes and enables them to see. Lenten season is a journey of conversion. Actually, our conversion begins when we care to revise the way we think, the way we look at things and the way we act.
Jesus comes to wash and open our eyes so that healed from our blindness we can see as God sees. He comes to create a new humanity. That’s why he repeats the gesture of creation. At the beginning, in the book of Genesis, what does God do to create the human person? He uses mud. That’s the gesture Jesus repeats when healing the man born blind. He’s creating a new humanity that has an outlook purified and humane.
Lord, heal me from my blindness so that I may be able to look at others with an eye of compassion and love. Help to be humane.
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