Our lectionary continues to unlock the gospel of John in today’s reading. In this way the continuing presence of Jesus encourages our understanding of him and our spiritual growth.

Pope Francis recently wrote in an Apostolic Letter, “The relationship between the Risen Lord, the community of believers and sacred scripture is essential to our identity as Christians. Without the Lord who opens our minds to them, it is impossible to understand the scriptures in depth. Yet the contrary is equally true: without the scriptures the events of the mission of Jesus and of his Church in this world would remain incomprehensible. Hence St Jerome could rightly claim ‘ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ’ ” With that in mind let us turn our attention to the man born blind.

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This episode is a clear sign that Jesus is the light of the world that enlightens every person in the world. Once again John has us focus on the person and identity of Jesus. The blind man in stages grows in confidence and vision through which he deals with Jesus finally coming to full faith (sight) in Jesus as the son of man.

Here we have a sense that FAITH, far from being a flight into unreality and make-believe, entails a heightened capacity to see and accept the truth.

The narrative unfolds in eight scenes; far too many for us to explore in this brief review. Central is Jesus’ claim to be the Light of the world, using blindness as a symbol of unbelief and overcoming blindness as a symbol of unbelief and the overcoming of blindness as an image of enlightenment and faith.

The pattern here is one where a human need (i.e. blindness) is overcome miraculously by Jesus, followed by a discourse which unfolds the miracle as a sign pointing to a deeper revelation that Jesus is indeed the light-giving Light of the world. No magic here, but quite simply the growth of faith in Jesus Christ.

We must identify with the positive journey of the blind man and distance ourselves entirely from those who take the opposite direction.

There are two journeys unfolding here. The blind man moves from physical blindness to physical sight and so to spiritual enlightenment. The pharisees (religious authorities) move from physical sight to spiritual darkness and unbelief. They are parallel journeys — ascent to light or descent to darkness. Both journeys have some reflection in our own lives. We must identify with the positive journey of the blind man and distance ourselves entirely from those who take the opposite direction.

Here we have a sense that FAITH, far from being a flight into unreality and make-believe, entails a heightened capacity to see and accept the truth.

The truth about oneself

The truth about the world

And the truth about God’s outreach to the world in the person of Jesus who draws human beings out of selfishness and delusion to the freedom of divine eternal life.

Fr Brian Kelty. PhD

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