Sermon ~ Sunday of the Man Born Blind
The story we hear from today’s Gospel of St. John, the story of the man born blind, is a story of healing, healing from many things not just the obvious. In St. John’s Gospel, healing is the sixth sign of the Divinity of Christ and in this particular case it is the only one that has had the malady since birth.
But this is not just simply a story of this man. None of the stories we hear and read about in Scripture are just about or for the person or persons being spoken to or about. You see the blind man in this story is representative of all of humanity. All of us, the whole world for that matter, need the illumination of Christ that come from hearing and understanding the word but also from Baptism. By healing this man Christ is making the claim that He is in fact the illumination of the world.
Through this act the savior rejects the long held opinion by many that our sins cause our illness. Now I have told you before that it is not our sin directly that causes our illness but our sin indirectly that can cause it. Because of our sinful nature we may not always make the right choices in life and sometimes those choices have very bad consequences. But Jesus clergy rejects the notion that it was this man’s sin or that of His parents that caused this man to be born blind. It did, however, provide a back drop for the working of this miracle so that all could see and believe.
This passage also reminds us of the work that we are supposed to be about. The work of the people or as Jesus calls it the work of the one who sent Me. This work is that of faith. Faith is the backbone of everything we do. Good deeds, although our salvation is not based upon the deeds that we do, for we cannot earn our salvation, we are however called to put our faith in action. And repentance. The often overlooked work that we are all called to do. We need to be reconciled to God so we can regain that relationship I spoke of last week, that relationship where we are once again able to walk in the very presence of God. As Jesus says, the day will come when we are no longer able to do these things, after we die, so why are we waiting?
St. Irenaeus, commenting on this passage, sees in the saliva and the clay a type of the creation of humanity from the earth. Jesus reveals His divinity by restoring part of creation using the same material with which He created humanity in the first place.
As the clay is symbolic so is the pool that the man was sent too. The pool of Siloam, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, was used for the purification rites. The water drawn from this pool was used in the temple, the translation of Siloam simply means sent. Jesus sent the man to wash in the pool and Christ was sent to free humanity from all that keeps us in captivity. Just as He used the blind man to show that He is the illumination of the world, He is using the pool to show that He is the true purification of the temple and those who worship in it.
The Pharisees once again miss the healing to focus on the man’s sin and shows that they, like many of us, are blinded by our own prejudices towards things and towards people. Jesus shows us that He came for all, not just those who follow the letter of the law. We are called to minister to all without prejudice as we are told in the letter of St. James.
The man that was healed, and we do not know his name, become a model Christian witness. Many of us do not wish to be witnesses of the faith because we are afraid of being asked questions that we do not have the answer for. When questioned if the man who healed him was a sinner he says he does not know, then he tells them what he does know that he was blind and now he sees. What we do know is far more important that what we do not know and like the blind man we should not be afraid to admit that we do not know.
Opening the man’s eyes was only part of the story. Not only did Jesus heal his physical illness but by opening his eyes he also opened his heart and illumined his spirit. We see that same thing happen to St. Paul on the road. Paul, the ultimate persecutor of the Church, had his eyes opened as well as his heart so he could see the revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul, the ultimate sinner, became one of the greatest evangelists for the Church!
Like Paul, the man in this story moves from knowing nothing about Christ, through the conclusion that he could not possibly be a sinner, through confessing that Jesus must be from God, to finally seeing Him as the divine Son of God and worshiping Him.
What blinds us? What is it that keeps us from truly seeing that Jesus is the light of the world? What blinds us to the glory that He came to reveal? What blinds us and keeps us from the work that God has called us too, loving God, loving neighbor, and repentance?
We may not be physically blind as the man in the story but we are, sometimes, spiritually blind and we need the clay placed on the eyes of our heart and our spirit and we need to go and wash in the pool so we too can reach our full potential and live the life that god has called us.
What blinds you?
Christ is Risen!