Reflection on the 4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
1 Sm 16:1b,6-7,10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41.
After smearing the clay on the eyes of the blind man, Jesus commanded him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. In many occasions Jesus simply said the word and the person was healed. To the daughter of Jairus, Jesus took her hand and commanded, “Little girl, get up.” To the paralytic he commanded, “Get up, take up your mat and go home.” Immediately the man did as commanded. To Lazarus in the tomb, Jesus called loudly, “Lazarus, come out,” and he came out. Jesus took Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and the fever left her. At other occasions Jesus commanded them to do something. To the ten lepers Jesus said, “Show yourselves to the priests.” While still on the way they were cleansed. To the man with a withered hand he commanded, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and he was healed. In the 2 Kgs 5, the prophet Elisha commanded Naaman the leper to bathe seven times in the Jordan River. When he did so, he was healed, something like washing in the pool of Siloam.
For a note: the word Siloam comes from the root word meaning ‘to send’ and the name as used here is from the passive participle: “sent”. So that the blind man received the light of his eyes and the light of faith from Jesus, “the One Sent by the Father.”
The behavior of the Pharisees is obviously consistent with their desire to deny the reality that Jesus is at least “a man from God.” Jesus could not be from God because he cured in the Sabbath and therefore a sinner. That eye sight was given to a man born blind they also wanted to deny, thus they called the parents to identify the man as their son who was born blind. Unable to gain ground from the parents, they again asked the man to narrate how he gained his eye sight. The man chided them saying maybe they also wanted to be Jesus’ disciples. At this they abused him and threw him out. To those who have faith no proofs nor explanations are necessary; those who refuse to believe, no argument nor explanation will suffice. The Pharisees possessed the human eye to see and the intelligence to study and be teachers of the Law, yet they closed themselves to accept the reality and the teachings of Jesus. The man born blind was open to Jesus and his words, thus he received his human sight and the gift of salvation from Jesus.
Let us observe a similarity between this narrative and the episode of the Samaritan woman, both from John. The Samaritan woman at first acknowledged Jesus: “I see you are a prophet.” The man born blind also confessed: “He is a prophet.” At the end of the encounter, Jesus identified himself to the Samaritan woman as the Messiah: “I am he, the one speaking with you.” After being expelled from the temple, in a similar way Jesus told the man born blind: “You have seen him, and the one speaking to you is he.” ‘He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.’ We see a progression of faith, from “the prophet” to the “Messiah” and the “Son of Man.” Both persons had encounters with Jesus and they progressed in their profession of faith about him. The Pharisees refused to accept Jesus and lost opportunity to know him better. What about my encounters with Jesus? Have they helped me grow in my knowledge of his person? Have I grown to know him better and love him more ardently? At the elevation of the consecrated Host and the Chalice, it will be good to look up and whisper to Jesus: “Lord, let me see your face. Let me hear your voice.” Amen.