The healing of the man born blind
What is quite remarkable in Chapter nine of Saint John, is that we see a man blind from birth in the presence of Jesus. And then since Jesus’ visit causes quite a commotion around this blind man whose sight is restored, we also see the blind man in the presence of his parents and then in the presence of his neighbors. Because a person who is blind from birth cannot travel very much! And what does that do for him? He therefore was always in the same place. We see him before his parents, his neighbors and faced with the Pharisees who want to better understand what is happening. This man born blind becomes very interesting! Until then, no one paid any attention to him. He was just simply there. Some people surely gave him a few coins; he was known in this way and in this way only. He begged, he was the neighborhood beggar. On the days when people had two coins, they gave them; sometimes they had nothing and just went by. But as soon as his vision was restored, everyone was interested in him. Not because of his person, but because Jesus himself was interested in him. So the beggar became an interesting man, even for the Pharisees, who paid no attention at all to him beforehand. A man born blind is a miserable fellow, snubbed by humanity, rejected by God. Jesus bore all the damage of original sin. Jesus and Mary, who were not born blind, lived among men born blind without themselvesbeing blind. Jesus, and Mary with him, willingly borethe situation of this man born blind, the lack of interest men accorded to this miserable man. And then suddenly, thanks to Jesus, his situation changes completely. This is the first thing we see in Chapter 9.
Discovering Jesus’ gaze on us as men born blind is essential. He opens the eyes of our heart by faith. In fact, faith is this interior gaze of God in the midst of the shadows of our human situation, in the midst of the exterior gaze of men, in the midst of their way of transmitting and interpreting the mystery that they do not penetrate. You see how you are looked at by those who are close to you, in as much as they are Christian; how the “doctors of the Law” look at you; and how Jesus himself looks at you. All that is said in this chapter. Re-read it in this light and you will see how admirableit is. It is a very surprising chapter which is very different from the other ones, because in the other chapters, the principle character is always Jesus, whereas here Jesus is present in the beginning, but then we look at humanity. A gaze on humanity, with its various reactions to what Jesus did, is developedthe most in the Gospel of John. Each one of us can recognize ourselves in it.
Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, o.p.
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