“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3)
Last Sunday, St. John told us the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. While she had come to draw water which can never satisfy, Jesus was offering the living water which alone can quench our thirst. Indeed, our God can satisfy the deepest yearnings of our hearts.
Today, St. John presents another interesting story, the healing of the man born blind. It was such a pitiable condition to have been born blind, Jesus’ disciples asked if his blindness was a punishment for sins. However, more pitiable were the Pharisees who, claiming to see were blind to the presence of God in their midst.
Just as the Samaritan woman asked Jesus for living water last Sunday, we are called upon today to beg Jesus to open our eyes; to cure us of the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of sin, and the darkness of hypocrisy. Let us now consider some lessons contained in today’s readings:
*1. God Has a Purpose for Everything: He Takes no Delight in the Death of the Sinner*
There are times when things happen to us and we begin to wonder: “Could it be that God is punishing me for my sins?” In the case of this man born blind, the disciples wanted to know if God was punishing his parents for their sins or if God decided to punish him ahead for the sins he would commit later on in life. The response of Jesus tells us that our negative circumstances in life should never be interpreted as punishment for sins.
The truth is that if God were to deal with us according to our sins, none of us would still be alive. On the other hand, as Jesus said, God knows how to write best on very crooked lines. Sometimes our most painful circumstances turn out to be the ones we are most grateful for. St. Augustine would say: “God will never allow anything bad to happen to us except if He plans to bring something good out of it.” This man’s blindness happened not because of his sins or that of his parents but simply that through him, God would be made manifest.
Are you currently going through some painful circumstances? Have you prayed for God to take the cross away and it seems as though your prayers were in vain, do not give up on God, do not assume He is punishing you. Just hold on. Like the man who did not absent himself from the synagogue despite his condition, continue to worship God. Remember that for God, it is never too late. Perhaps, all this is happening to you now so that your story would transform many lives tomorrow.
*2. To Live in Sin is to be in Darkness: Repent from Hypocrisy*
There are many of us Christians today who believe in the eleventh commandment: “do not get caught.” We are like the scribes and Pharisees Jesus condemned, externally, we appear like white-washed tombs but inwardly, that is, secretly, we are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of filth. We are always present in the church and we even hold high positions but before God who sees everything, we are worse than unbelievers.
To believe you would never be caught is a form of blindness. Jesus once said: “For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.” (Mark 4:22). Furthermore, to think that all is well just because people are not aware of the kind of things you do in secret is another serious blindness. In today’s first reading, God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint a new king in place of Saul. Why was God replacing Saul? Simply put, Saul was a people pleaser. He cared more about making an impression on others rather than doing the right thing.
Strive to please God especially when no one is watching. Don’t live your life like an actor on stage. St. Paul tells us in our second reading today: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” We cannot partake of darkness secretly and then pretend to be children of light in public. When Samuel got the house of Jesse, Samuel almost made the mistake of anointing one of them because they all seemed good-looking externally but then God said: “Do not look at appearance because the Lord does not see as men see; man looks at outward appearance but God looks at the heart.”
The questions we must ask ourselves today are: “What are the contents of my heart? Do I radiate light inwardly or am I just trying to look good before people? Do the things I do in secret mark me out as a child of God?” Eventually, the smallest of Jesse’s sons, David, was chosen. David did not look like a king but he had the heart of a king. Don’t just look like a Christian, become one.
*3. Lack of Faith is Blindness: It is Worse Than Physical Blindness*
After curing the blind man, a mild drama ensued. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Only God could cure a man who was born blind. Could it be that God has come to dwell in the midst of men? There was argument and division among the people who knew that this man was born blind but could now see. The Pharisees interrogated him and to be sure that he was not lying, they called his parents and asked about him. When the truth became obvious, the Pharisees still sought for a way to deny it. The man had received his sight but the Pharisees, the blind guides, were refusing to open their eyes to the reality that Jesus is God.
The blindness of the Pharisees was caused by: 1. Envy. When you are envious of others, you are prepared to pull them down by all means but then, no matter how hard you try, they remain above you. They couldn’t believe that Jesus was now doing what they themselves could not do. 2. Hatred. When you hate someone, there is nothing the person would do that would make sense. While others were giving praise to God, the Pharisees were finding faults: “He cannot be God because he did this on the Sabbath day.” Watch out when you become highly critical of others, it is a sign of hatred brewing in your heart.
Lack of faith in God is a blindness that is worse than physical blindness. In fact, as the book of Hebrews puts it: “Without faith, it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). If you are finding it difficult to pray or you feel that prayers are a waste of time, then know that you have become blind. Just as the Sun does not cease to exist because a man cannot see it, God does not cease to exist because people no longer worship Him. The people who rejected Jesus in his hometown were blind and as Mark tells us, he could do no mighty work there. (Cf. Mark 6:5-6)
*4. Jesus is More Than Just a Miracle Worker*
Seeing that they could not convince the man to declare Jesus a sinner, the Pharisees expelled him from the synagogue. This is another effect of hatred; when you hate someone so much, you cannot stand those who speak well about that person. You are even prepared to lose your friends just because they like the one you hate. Jesus heard that they cast out the man and He found him.
Just as Jesus revealed his true identity to the Samaritan woman last Sunday, Jesus said to this man “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” The man said: “Lord, I believe” and he worshipped Jesus. Again, just as Jesus told his disciples that He has food that they do not know about, Jesus, feeling fulfilled at the conversion of this man said: “For this, I came; that those who do not see may see and those who see may become blind.”
Jesus opened the man’s eyes but more than that, he opened the eyes of his mind. As Thomas declared faith in Jesus and worshipped him, this man declared his faith and worshipped Jesus. His life would never remain the same again. This is what Jesus wants to do for you. Jesus is not only interested in giving you water (which you would drink and be thirsty again), He wants to have living water; Jesus wants you to receive light.
*Conclusion: Don’t Keep Jesus to Yourself*
We have just done our elections. Once again, we have seen how corruption marred the entire system. It has never been this bad and it is just getting worse every day. The only way out is for all of us to start shining our light. Be good. Be convinced of your Christian faith and just do the right thing. Just as the Samaritan woman went to tell everyone in the town about Jesus, this is a time for us to proclaim Jesus to the whole world like the blind man: “One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25). If truly you have encountered Jesus, you would not keep Him to yourself.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, open my eyes that I may come out of my darkness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13 Ps. 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu