Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Congregation for the Clergy

3/28/2014 (5 months ago)

Congregation for the Clergy (vatican.va)

While the theme of blindness and sight, darkness and light, witness and threat feature prominently in John's account of the healing of man born blind and illustrate the great sweep of Lenten motifs in terms of conversion, baptism and grace, another aspect of the account of the miracle suggests itself to our consideration. If we look at the Gospel account, we can see that the blind man and Jesus have in common that the other protagonists of the incident fail to recognise them. Blindness envelops the entire scene, with the exception of Christ who bestows light, and the blind man who receives it. It is evocative of the first moment of creation, when the Spirit hovered over the darkness and drew forth from nothingness all that exists. Jesus is sent to do the 'works' that the Father has sent him to do, while it is still day (cf. Jn. 9: 4).

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Highlights

By Congregation for the Clergy

Congregation for the Clergy (vatican.va)

3/28/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Vatican, Congregation for the Clergy, Lent, Easter


VATICAN - The blind man is repeatedly asked to prove his identity. He is no longer recognised by those who acknowledged him only as a blind beggar. They knew him only for his function, the inconvenience he represented, the occasional object of their good works. It is extraordinary that in the account of the blind man's travails, even his parents have a role only as witnesses to his identity as their son, the blind beggar. The blind man is not recognised for who he is. We often talk of "assumed identities", but in the Gospel passage we see a powerful representation of 'forced identity'. In this, the blind man shares the experience of Christ, whom neither the crowd nor the Pharisees are willing to acknowledge for who he is.  

The newness of the sight of the man born blind is ignored by the Pharisees, the crowd, and even by his own parents. In his new condition, he remains for them as he had been before: an object, not a person, useful insofar as he can manifest the unlawfulness of Christ. Christ alone recognises the newness that is in him, the gift of sight in all its wonder. When before no one cared to share his wonder at seeing faces and colours, form and structure, Christ seeks him out to invite the response of faith in the language of sight, in the vision of Christ with the eyes of the body so that the mystery of Christ might be seen with the eyes of faith: so that sight might be the conduit of light even as light is the vehicle of seeing. In the marvellous experience of first sight, Christ invites the response of faith, that the first response of the experience of light, of seeing, of life might be the worship of the true light, Christ the Lord: "Jesus said to him, "You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him."

We live in a world saturated by sight, by the stimulation of the senses, particularly the sense of sight. The world transfixes our gaze, not to share in its wonder but to instrumentalise it for its own end: to sell a product, to induce a way of seeing the world that enslaves and wears down our capacity to see with the mind of the heart. Categorisation, caricature, calumny are the stock in trade of the world. In the words of T.S. Elliott, everyone must be "fixed with a formulated phrase.fixed and wriggling on a wall" (Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock). Casting out, wearing down, destroying, setting up for our own self-interested purpose requires but a 'tweet'. In the world of ever-expanding liberty, where is freedom to be found? Many of us live lives that are exposed, but not, for all that, transparent and free in themselves. The more we reveal about ourselves, the more does the mystery of who we are recede into the distance. We are an image of ourselves, a 'profile', a page, but less and less a canvas.
Christ invites us to set our gaze on him. He seeks us out, as he sought out the man born blind. Perhaps if each of us heard that question: "Do you believe in the Son of Man", we too might say, "Who is he. that I may believe in him"; we might be intrigued to know who he is who might be worthy of the first fruits of our spiritual sight. The response to that question is simply the invitation to look upon Christ. This might be just enough in the moments when we realise we wish to say that 'who' we are can no longer be answered by the world and its categories. What else have we to offer in terms of evangelisation and compassion, solidarity and relief but to draw one another's gaze to Christ, "For in your light we see light" (cf. Ps 36: 9).

In Christ we are revealed for who we are. In him we see with the light of God's grace. Looking upon him, we see the reflection of his own beauty that he has placed within us, whom he has made in his image and likeness. He continues to hover over the empty void that remains within us, to bring life out of nothingness, to bring redemption from condemnation and isolation. He seeks us out as he sought out the man born blind, attracted by the beauty he has created within us. It is a beauty that never be destroyed. We can never be detestable in his sight in who we are. His beauty endures. It is his spark within us. It is ready to spring back to life once the breadth of God blows over it, for as the first man was made from the clay of the earth, so the second Man is a life-giving Spirit.

In this time of exclusion and condemnation, of categorisation and marginalisation, of extreme and disaffection, the Christian is called to turn his gaze to Christ, to see in him the beauty of his being, to raise our mind from the din that surrounds us and from the priorities of the world and to see in Christ the reflection of who we are. Seeing in him our Creator and Redeemer, we too might be prompted with the blind man to give the first homage of our seeing to him, to "bow down and worship" (cf. Jn. 9: 39). It is the first act of our newfound freedom of the sons of God. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth" (cf. Eph. 5: 8-9).



Comments


More Living Faith

Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


What every catechist needs but few have

Image of A complete library of books for catechists should feature the USCCB's full collection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're a catechist, then you're aware of the importance of your role. You provide the core of Catholic education to our youth and adults who are entering the Church. As such, you are familiar with the teachings of the Church and can probably answer most questions ... continue reading


DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS: Up to 50 Iraqi Christian refugees sleeping in areas the size of bedroom Watch

Image of Mosul, one of the largest cities in Iraq, is now completely empty of Christians as is Qaraqosh, a town dating back to 1,000 years before Christ and inhabited by mostly Christians for 2,000 years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mattresses scattered around church altars. Up to 50 people sleeping in areas the size of a single bedroom. Church grounds dotted with makeshift tents in 105-degree heat. This was just a few of the deplorable conditions a delegation sent by Melkite Catholic ... continue reading


Pope Francis briefed by envoy about deteriorating situation in Iraq Watch

Image of Cardinal Filoni spoke to the Pope last week. The cardinal had just arrived at the Vatican following a visit to Iraq on August 13-20 as Francis' envoy to besieged minorities there.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Back from a fact-finding mission on the deteriorating and ever worsening situation in Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni said that Pope Francis "was really taken" by his description of Christians and other minorities who have been forced from their homes in north-western ... continue reading


Will Suffering, Struggle, Failure and Pain Make us Bitter or Better? Watch

Image of Because of his close communion with Jesus Christ, the Risen One who had called him in the desert, Paul cultivated an interior strength which made it possible for him to walk through the pain, to even embrace the pain, and to experience failure itself as a path to the Cross where he found comfort in the wounded side of Jesus the Savior.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

St. Paul was an extraordinary man and an extraordinary Christian. An Apostle, raised up out of the ordinary course, he accomplished great things for the Lord as he eagerly responded to His calling to build the Church and, through her, to help change the world. A ... continue reading


What Pope Francis said to make millions think again about abortion Watch

Image of On Saturday, August 16, 2014, during the apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis made a loud statement. However, he did not use words. He did not have to. His prophetic action brought to mind a saying attributed to his namesake, Francis of Asisi - I preach the Gospel at all times, but sometimes I use words.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When Francis began his service from the chair of Peter, much hoopla filled the media about some alleged softening in the opposition of the Catholic Church to what are dismissively referred to as complicated "moral issues" such as abortion. Sadly, even some in the ... continue reading


DEAR CATHOLIC ONLINE: Keep it free, keep it going

Image of Keep it free, keep it live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is heavily invested in bringing you world class news delivered from the Catholic perspective. This service is provided for free and we intend for it to remain free for the foreseeable future. However, it comes at a cost and right now, we need each ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Baptized Christian Has a Vocation and Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge you, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 23:27-32
27 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 27th, 2014 Image

St. Monica
August 27: St. Monica was married by arrangement to a pagan official in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter