Passing by, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared his eyes with clay, and said to him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” – which means Sent. So he went to wash up, and he came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t that the one who sat down and begged? Some said, “It’s true”, but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am. They brought the once blind man to the Pharisees. Now, Jesus had made clay and had opened his eyes on a Sabbath day. So the Pharisees also asked him how he could see. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed myself, and now I can see.” Then some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not of God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He’s a prophet.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they kicked him out. When Jesus heard that they had driven him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of man? He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and he is speaking to you.” He said, “I believe, Lord,” and he worshiped it. –John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
By SISTER JACQUELINE GITONGA, FSP
“Eeewwwwww! might be your first reaction when you read this gospel about Jesus mixing dirt with his saliva and smearing the eyes of a blind man. “How could Jesus do this?
Wait. Remember, Jesus is the Son of God, which means he is God. Whenever Jesus does or says something in the Gospels, he always teaches us something very important. As God, he always teaches us how to become more like him.
So what does Jesus teach us in this gospel? Let’s go through these lessons together.
1. First, since Jesus is God, He could easily have said a word and the blind man could have received his sight instantly. However, many times Jesus used something material to perform a miracle. Remember when Jesus fed the five thousand? He used five barley loaves and two fish. And what about the wedding at Cana? He used water and turned it into wine.
Jesus can heal and do miracles without using anything because he is almighty God and nothing is impossible for him. However, Jesus uses everyday objects to bring healing and joy into our lives. That’s what a sacrament is. Our catechism teaches us that a sacrament is a visible sign of the invisible grace (spiritual help) that we receive from God who acts in him to bring us his new life. Through the sacraments (baptism, communion, reconciliation, confirmation, etc.), we become children of God and are strengthened by God to live as his children in our world today. God uses the visible signs of water, bread, oil, etc., in the sacraments and through the prayers offered by a priest or deacon, we experience God’s grace and healing in our lives.
God has given us all the spiritual strength we need in the sacraments to become like him. We just have to ask for his help. How awesome!
2. As we continue to read the Gospel, Jesus teaches us something else. People who had known the blind man before he was healed began to wonder if he was the same person now that he could see. The blind man said to them, “I am.” But even then, some people didn’t believe him.
Sometimes this happens to us as Christians. When we were baptized, we became disciples of Christ. We may look alike on the outside, but something different has changed on the inside. We have become a new person. We have become a child of God called to live like Christ. As Saint Paul says, “put off the old man…and put on the new man”.
So, as children of God, we try to live according to the commandments of God. We go to church on Sunday. We frequently talk to God in prayer alone or as a family. We read the Bible to learn the ways of God. We help those in need in our community; we treat others with kindness, mercy and love; we tell the truth and try to be honest in our dealings with each other. When we do these things we are still the same person on the outside, but because we have experienced the love of Christ through the sacraments, we are now different on the inside.
But, like people who have not accepted the blind man now that he has been healed, some people may not accept the “new you”. They may think you’re pretending or wanting to show that you’re better than others. You may even be bullied for doing the right thing or for standing up for the truth.
Do not get discouraged. The blind man who was healed stayed true to his story. Jesus had made a difference in his life. Jesus had healed him and given him new life. Let’s imitate the blind by being brave!
3. There is another point that Jesus wants to show us in this Gospel. The Pharisees asked the blind man what had happened to him. He told them that he had been healed by Jesus, but the Pharisees did not accept his word. They even went further and “kicked him out” and asked him, “Are you trying to teach us?”
Wow! This kind of treatment may seem harsh for a man who was just trying to share the good news that Jesus had healed him! So what was really going on here?
Well, the Pharisees had heard of Jesus – the new rabbi in town who performed miracles and preached to many crowds – and they were jealous. So when the blind man came with this miracle that he could now see, they were blinded by their jealousy to the point that they could not rejoice in the miracle that had happened before their eyes: a blind man could now see!
It is also something that happens to us very easily. How often do we see good things happening to people around us and get jealous? Maybe someone has a new friend, a new phone, went on a trip, or received a prize we wish we had. Maybe someone posted a video on Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok of what they did that went viral or they posted pictures on Facebook or Twitter of something that happened to them… and now they are famous!
What is our reaction? Are we rejoicing with our friend or are we jealous? Jesus teaches us to rejoice in the good that happens all around us. As the Body of Christ, God is always at work in our friends, family and the world through goodness, truth and beauty. Can we take a moment to be happy with those around us?
4. Here is another point. The Pharisees thought they were the best and couldn’t learn from anyone. They were proud and couldn’t see how God could teach them through Jesus about the good work God was doing in their neighborhood! Sometimes we, too, can have this same attitude saying to others around us through our words or actions, “I know! Don’t tell me what to do!” and then behave like the Pharisees of the Gospel.
Jesus shows us this Lent to learn to be docile to the Holy Spirit who teaches us the ways of God all the time. God teaches us through our parents, family members, teachers, friends, the Bible, Church teachings, etc. Pray for a listening attitude and an open heart so that we are always ready to learn.
5. The last part of this gospel is a great lesson for all of us trying to live our Christian life today. Jesus learned that the blind man who was now healed had been driven out by the Pharisees. This man probably felt lonely and unwanted because he was just telling them the truth about what had happened to him.
So Jesus came to him and told him who he was: “The Son of Man”, which means he is God. And that is why the Gospel ends with the phrase that the blind man “worshipped” Jesus.
Jesus knows that it is not easy to live God’s values in today’s world. We can be intimidated for trying to do the right thing. We may be treated differently because of our faith as we try to follow God in our lives. Take heart. As Jesus came to the blind man to let him know that he is God, so Jesus always remains close to us to remind us that he is God. With him in our lives, we have nothing to fear. God bless you!
Originally from Nyeri, Kenya, Sister Jackie, 43, took her perpetual vows in 2019. Her hobbies include hiking, baking, writing songs and poems, meeting new people from all over the world, dancing, cooking, kayaking and sharing the joy she finds. in his Catholic faith on social media. Sister Jackie, National Director of Pauline Cooperators, holds a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She co-authored the 2021 book “Millennial Nuns: Reflections on Living a Spiritual Life in a World of Social Media.”