Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Congregation for the Clergy

3/28/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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

Fr. Stanley Rother becomes first American-born martyr Watch

Image of Father Stanley Rother was proclaimed a martyr.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis has recognized Father Stanley Rother as a martyr. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Fr. Rother was born in Oklahoma City, OK, making him the first martyr born in the United States.In 1986, he was sent to Santiago Atitlan from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma ... continue reading


Pope Francis announces the December prayer intention Watch

Image of Pope Francis calls us to pray for child soldiers.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis revealed his December prayer intention on Thursday, prompting millions to unite in prayer. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis' prayer intention for the month of December is to end child soldiers.End to ... continue reading


Seven bishops, one abbot, and a psychiatrist dialogue with peace activists Watch

Image of During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops† fall assembly in Baltimore, several bishops and one abbot, gathered with about 25 peace activists [not pictured].

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore, several bishops and one abbot, gathered with about 25 peace activists - myself included - to share a simple meal and consider the horrible emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds suffered by ... continue reading


What is the Catholic Church doing in Australia? Watch

Image of The Catholic Church is hard at work.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Catholic Church in Australia has been hard at work to establish a permanent form of change in the community and, if successful, possibly the world. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Catholic Church in Australia established a new independent non-profit to ... continue reading


'We pray with Christian hope' - Pope Francis reminds us to pray for the living AND the dead Watch

Image of Pope Francis asks us to pray.

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his last set of catechesis on mercy, Pope Francis focused on the works of praying for the living and the dead, as well as burying the dead, insisting that since we are all part of one family in Christ, we must remember to pray constantly for one another. Vatican ... continue reading


The 100th Fatima anniversary brings with it three ways to obtain an indulgence Watch

Image of Invoke Our Lady of Fatima.

By Maria Ximena Rondon (CNA/EWTN News)

For the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis has decided to grant a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began Nov. 27, 2016, and will end Nov. 26, 2017. Fatima, Portugal (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


What happens when an atheist encounters Christ? This poet found out for herself Watch

Image of Sally Read was an atheist, now she is a Catholic.

By David Kerr - CNA

"Until two years ago, I was a really committed atheist and I really hated the Catholic Church," said poet Sally Read, as she explained how all that dramatically changed during nine months in 2010. "The whole process took from March to December, and I was received into ... continue reading


Lost tablets confirmed to speak of Christ, but is the story they tell true? Watch

Image of Do these tablets add a chapter to the Gospel of Christ?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Researchers have confirmed the authenticity of lead tablets that discuss Jesus Christ and date to the period of His ministry. As genuine artifacts, they serve as an additional, non-Biblical source to reference the existence of Christ. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Special prayers dedicated for victims of the tragic Colombia plane crash Watch

Image of Join us in prayer for the victims and their loved ones.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During his general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for prayers for the victims of the plane crash in Colombia and their families. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The pontiff shared the crash reminded him of the 1949 Superga air crash, ... continue reading


Choose humility over theatrics - Pope Francis explains the difference Watch

Image of The Pope explains humility.

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Christians must pursue true humility as they remember the "smallness" of Christmas, Pope Francis said in his Tuesday homily. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - "Humility is the virtue of the childlike and this is true humility and not a rather theatrical humility: ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
19 Yes, people of Zion living in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh -- it is good to sing psalms to our God -- how ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:35--10:1, 6-8
35 Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 3rd, 2016 Image

St. Francis Xavier
December 3: St. Francis Xavier was a Navarrese-Basque Roman ... Read More