Twice cured, still an outcast!

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

In the story of the man born blind cured by Jesus (Jo. 9: 1,6-9,13-17,34-38), we see an example of John the Evangelist's style of making the subject tell his story of conversion. Of course, it was initiated by Jesus: "He saw a man blind from birth." To "see" for Jesus means seeing the possibilities for faith. From this story, we see the sharp contrast between the blind man and three groups of people.

First, the neighbors. Some of them asked if the man was the same beggar they knew. Others said he was just a look alike. Despite his assertion that he was the man, they remained indifferent to God's wonderful work wrought in their midst.

Second, the Pharisees. Having been brought by the neighbors to the Pharisees, they interrogated the man. They asked how he was cured. He told them. But knowing that he was cured by Jesus on a sabbath which must be kept holy by abstaining from everything except what the Pharisees prescribed (healing was not one of them), they concluded that he was not blind and therefore no cure had occurred. They reasoned, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" But the beggar responded that if Jesus "were not from God, he would not be able to do anything." When finally asked what he could say about "the man" who cured him, he answered, "He is a prophet." Their response was a personal attack, "You were born totally in sin, and here you are you trying to teach us?" Then in anger they expelled him from the synagogue, that is, from the social and political life of Israel.

The tragedy of the Pharisees is that they just could not see beyond the law. Thus they concluded that because Jesus did not keep the sabbath, He was not of God. More, He was a sinner. Truly, the Pharisees had "eyes yet they cannot see." Sad to say, the Pharisees were not alone in this sad predicament. At Jesus' crucifixion, while the Jews jeered at Him, the Roman centurion proclaimed that He was truly the Son of God.

Third, the blind man's parents. The Pharisees sent for them to verify his identity and to tell them how he was cured. The parents confirmed that he was born blind. But how he was cured, they did not know. They then added, "Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for him self." They made this stand because they were afraid to be expelled from the synagogue for acknowledging "the man" as the Messiah.

Let us now see the gradual progress in faith of the blind man. Before his neighbors, he affirmed that He was cured by a "man who is called Jesus" - everything he knew about Jesus then. When asked by the Pharisees what he thought of "the man", he answered, "He is a prophet." When they called Jesus a sinner and therefore could not do "such signs," he courageously asserted, "If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything."

In the end, the Pharisees expelled him from the synagogue.

Recall that after the cure, Jesus disappeared among the crowd. But after the healed man's expulsion from the synagogue, Jesus "found" and asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" The man asked, "Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus answered, "You have now seen him; he is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

A second miracle had happened! His bodily eyes were not only opened but also his eyes of faith. Thus he could now say in the full sense of the word: "I was born blind and now I see!"

But this was only known between him and Jesus. Poor beggar. Twice cured but still an outcast!

I wonder if there are no traces in us of the negative traits of the three groups of people mentioned above: the Pharisees for being unable to see beyond their prejudices and prejudgments, the neighbors for their indifference at the marvels Jesus performed and, the parents for failing to give glory to God for their son's cure out of fear of the Pharisees.

Often, we fail to see the hand of God in the many "miracles" performed in our midst. For example, after the conversion of a great sinner known to us, some of us may say, "Watch, in no time at all he will go back to his old ways." Perhaps. But if he continues to cooperate with God's grace -- which God always makes available to us -- then he may persevere in his conversion and prove his critics wrong.

There is no better time to re-examine our lives and discover our many kinds of spiritual blindness for which we have to ask for healing than during this season of Lent. Remember, the blind man in the gospel story has no name. He can be anyone of us. For this to happen, may we be delivered from the neighbor's indifference, the Pharisees' prejudices and prejudgments, and the parents's fears, so that our eyes of faith will be opened, too.