Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A-2011
- The Lord gives sight to the blind (Ps. 146:8—NAB)
Anointed with the Holy and sent to evangelize the poor and proclaim, among other blessings, recovery of sight to the blind (Lk. 4:18), Jesus opened the eyes of a man born blind. This miracle was one more sign that pointed to Jesus’ being the true Messiah (Mt. 11:5).
Through this work, Jesus granted to the blind both physical and spiritual sight. Gifted with spiritual insight, the one who did not see before recognized Jesus in the beginning as a prophet and finally as the Son of Man whom he worshiped afterwards. Hence, someone considered to have been born totally in sin, or at least, the offspring of sinners—in accordance with the prevailing blind way of thinking—managed to see beyond appearances. Moreover, he was instrumental in the disciples’ acquisition of a sharper and more reliable vision and in God’s works being made visible. He who had been blind gave glory to God, even though not in the manner the Pharisees demanded him to do.
The Pharisees wanted the man born blind to give glory to God by going along with them in their judgment that Jesus was a sinner, given that he did not keep the Sabbath, the day he made clay and opened the eyes of the blind. These guardians of the law could not bear the law being infringed upon. They kept a sharp eye on people because of the responsibility they had taken upon themselves of watching, investigating and cross-examining those accused or suspected of violating the law. Their devotion to the law and to Moses prevented them from going beyond what they knew and from giving credence to someone regarding whom they did not even know where he came from. And because they were absolutely certain of their beliefs, they were intransigent and took every contrary opinion to be a diabolical suggestion to be condemned in no uncertain terms and with insult. The Pharisees insisted that no, they did not suffer from any kind of blindness. So Jesus told them: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
Does our sin remain as well because we also claim we are not blind? Are we too certain of our beliefs that we turn from being accused and persecuted to being accusers and persecutors, showing ourselves to be darkness rather than light in the Lord and failing against goodness, righteousness and truth, the fruits of light? Of course, we have to be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope (1 Pt. 3:15-16), but aren’t we commanded likewise to do so with gentleness, reverence and with a clear conscience? St. Vincent de Paul’s advice is that one should be firm as to the ends, and humble and gentle as to the means . Aren’t we fond perhaps of playing the superior or the master, believing that to rule well and to maintain authority, one must let the others see who the boss is? To think so, according to St. Vincent, is contrary to Jesus’ teaching . Or do we get so carried away by indiscreet zeal that we would readily pull up, before the harvest, the weeds sown by the order of the dictatorship of relativism, let us say, without giving thought to the damage to the wheat that could result?
Jesus takes the side of the blind and the unclean, the sinners, the poor, the expelled, not the side of those who are without blemish and without defect, who expel others and see themselves either as priests worthy of God or as offerings acceptable to him (cf. Lv. 21:18; Dt. 15:21). That is because Jesus looks into the heart and does not just see the appearance. He sees that the former feel their need for the water that washes their guilt and quenches their thirst, and for the anointing that opens their eyes, their need for Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, which completes Christian initiation. Jesus likewise sees that the latter think themselves to be knowledgeable about everything and without any need for washing, healing, initiation or renewal, without any need for him, the light of the world. They deceive themselves, of course, and they walk in darkness; Jesus’ blood does not cleanse them from sin either (1 Jn. 1:5-10).
-  P. Coste II, 298, 355.
-  Ibid. XI, 346.