UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul

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Greg Homeming OCD

In today’s gospel Jesus meets a man whose very condition raises challenging…. The man in question was born blind. Unlike other similar passages, the man does not seek Jesus hoping for a cure; in our gospel it is Jesus who approaches the man born blind.

The disciples ask Jesus whose sin caused this man to be born blind. They are really asking him why and how he was born blind. The theology of the time attributed any misfortune or tragedy to the sin of some person or persons…. Jesus gives a clear answer, “neither he nor his parents sinned”. Then why was he born blind? “So that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

We often think that good things come our way because we have been good, and that misfortune is the consequence of sin. This is not so. We think like this because our horizon of thought is limited to this world. In fact we are made by God to live eternally with Him in glory. Jesus, who has come from the Father and returns to the Father, extends our perspective in such a way that these questions are resolved by a movement of the soul away from the question, which imprisons us within our own limitations, towards God.

Jesus now cures the man by applying to the eyes a paste made from dust of the earth and spittle. The allusion to Genesis is striking; using the same dust with which humankind was made, Jesus gives the man the sight that at creation God had intended us all to have.

No longer blind, the man’s very presence becomes a challenging question for the Pharisees. Who did this, and what sort of man does this on the Sabbath? The focus of this next set of questions is Jesus. The Pharisees struggle with a dilemma. The law has been broken, yet something which only God can do has happened…. Their question is an obstacle to their relationship with God. Sometimes we need to let go of our questions before we can incarnate the answer.

Jesus looks for and finds the man. Up to now the dialogue has involved onlookers trying to understand the extraordinary cure. Now the dialogue is between Jesus and the man born blind. Jesus asks “do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answers “Sir, tell me who he is so that I may believe in him”. This is not a simplistic response. I think that this man has been given more than sight; there has been a significant inner movement which has given him spiritual sight.

He now seeks the One on whom to gaze with the eyes of his soul. Jesus’ question articulates the man’s inner question which is not simply about the meaning of life; it is about the One who gives meaning to life.  When he says “tell me who he is”, he wants to be directed to the One that his eyes long to see. As Jesus says “you are looking at him”, the scales fall away from his eyes and he recognises Jesus, believes and worships.

The questions about evil, sin, and the identity of Jesus, which are raised in this gospel are resolved in the man born blind. We will only resolve our issues by entering within ourselves to encounter and SEE Jesus. The man “was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed IN him.”