From the Catholic Liturgy for the 4th Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2017 (Laetare Sunday): john 9:1-41. In today’s Gospel John takes us into the great city of Jerusalem and has us participate in one of the most intriguing stories found in the New Testament. John wants us to enter into the story so that it can become for us a symbol of growing in our understanding of and relationship with Jesus, or as John loves to put it, of gradually going from darkness into the light.
We see that first of all the man begins his relationship with Jesus by washing in the pool of Siloam and so that we do not miss the connection between washing and beginning the journey, John tells us that the word Siloam means “sent”. He wants us to see that our relationship with Jesus, the beginning of being sent on our spiritual journey from darkness to light, begins with the washing we all receive that heals us: baptism.
And then John shows us that this spiritual journey with Jesus begun at baptism progresses farther and deeper each time that we have to witness to Jesus, to testify as to what he means to us and what difference he has made in our lives. And he reminds us that people will have various reactions to our testimony. Some will rejoice and believe. Others will ignore it and ignore us. And there will be those who persecute us because of it. But John shows us that each time we have to stand up for our friendship with Jesus, the bond of our relationship with Him becomes clearer and stronger.
At first, all that the Man Born Blind simply says that he was healed by “that man called Jesus.” His understanding of Jesus is very basic. He reports on his healing as a kind of matter of fact re-telling of events: “he put mud on my eyes, told me to wash and now I can see.” He is speaking with his friends and neighbors and so there is no threat to him at all. No need to defend or witness to Jesus. He is still spiritually in the dark but the first rays of light are beginning to rise.
But then the Man is brought before the influential Jewish leaders who do not like the fact that Jesus broke the Sabbath law and they are out to get him. Apparently, the law was more important to them than mercy and they wanted blood. For the first time the Man faces social pressure for his testimony about Jesus. He has to make a conscious choice about his Healer. This leads him to take a step deeper into who Jesus is and he proclaims, “He is a prophet…he is devout…he does God’s will…God is with him!” The light is getting brighter for the Man Born Blind. At this point he sees him on the same level as Moses or John the Baptist. He still has a way to go in grasping just who Jesus really is, but the light is really starting to shine.
Finally, the man is excommunicated because he has come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, which is what the title he uses “Son of Man” means. His faith and his loyalty under pressure and persecution have cost him something but in return, Jesus himself seeks the man out in a very personal encounter. The light is shining so brilliantly upon the Man Born Blind that he exclaims, “I do believe, Lord!” and he worships Jesus right then and there. His journey has finally brought him fully out of the darkness and into the light that gives life.
John would like us to honestly ask ourselves: have we reached this level of friendship with Jesus in our own lives? Have we decided once for all to choose sides and become an intentional mindful disciple of Jesus, no matter what the cost?