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Fourth Sunday of Lent (26th March 2017)

A reading from the Gospel according to John 9:1-41

As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

‘As long as the day lasts
I must carry out the work of the one who sent me;
the night will soon be here when no one can work.
As long as I am in the world
I am the light of the world.’

Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man. and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored.

His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one’. Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him’. The man himself said, ‘I am the man’. So they said to him, ‘Then how do your eyes come to be open?’ ‘The man called Jesus’ he answered ‘made a paste, daubed my eyes with it and said to me, “Go and wash at Siloam”; so I went, and when I washed I could see.’ They asked, ‘Where is he?’ ‘I don’t know’ he answered.

They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see, he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see’. Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God: he does not keep the sabbath’. Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them.

So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet’ replied the man. However, the Jews would not believe that the man had been blind and had gained his sight, without first sending for his parents and asking them, ‘Is this man really your son who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but we don’t know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough: let him speak for himself.’ His parents spoke like this out of fear of the Jews, who had already agreed to expel from the synagogue anyone who should acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. This was why his parents said, ‘He is old enough; ask him’.

So the Jews again sent for the man and said to him, ‘Give glory to God! For our part, we know that this man is a sinner.’ The man answered, ‘I don’t know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see’. They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He replied, ‘I have told you once and you wouldn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’ At this they hurled abuse at him: ‘You can be his disciple,’ they said ‘we are disciples of Moses: we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don’t know where he comes from’. The man replied, ‘Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes, and you don’t know where he comes from! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but God does listen to men who are devout and do his will. Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of a man who was born blind; if this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing.’ ‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away.

Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you’. The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.
Jesus said: ‘It is for judgement that I have come into this world, so that those without sight may see and those with sight turn blind’.

Hearing this, some Pharisees who were present said to him, ‘We are not blind, surely?’
Jesus replied:’Blind ? If you were, you would not be guilty, but since you say, “We see”, your guilt remains.



Kevin Lyon, Archdeacon of Glendalough.The story is told about the time of a major blackout in New York City. It happened at rush hour close to Christmas. The whole of downtown Manhattan was plunged into inky darkness, traffic was grid locked, nothing moved. Just at that time a man who was walking towards the bus stop, felt lost, helpless and frightened. Then he bumped into someone. He apologised and then they got talking together. He happened to be someone who lived close by to where this lost soul had his apartment. The stranger offered to guide him home; 'Stay close to me and I promise to guide you' he cautioned. Sure enough the stranger guided the man home, right to his very doorstep. Now, the amazing thing was that the guide who led him to his apartment, through the darkness of that city, was in fact a man who was completely blind from birth. He was such a good guide in the dark because he had discovered another way of seeing. He had developed INNER VISION.

John the Evangelist who gives us the account of the blind man in today's Gospel, who was cured, didn't record it as just one other miracle cure of Jesus. There are, as we know, quite a number of accounts of healing from blindness in the Gospels and I am sure, many more that went unrecorded. Rather, this is the story of a man who was enlightened by Jesus and who came to faith in him - what saved him was the fact that he had no problem in admitting his blindness. This blind man in fact saw more than the religious leaders of his day - he saw the goodness of Jesus and had more faith in him than they had. The Pharisees had perfect physical eyesight, yet Jesus refers to them as being blind. They were spiritually blind; because they refused to acknowledge that fact, and seek the help that he was offering them.

There are, Jesus would illustrate, many forms of blindness, besides that of the physical kind - the kind of blindness, that can darken and warp the minds and hearts of all of us. Here are some of them: -

Selfishness that blinds us to the needs of others - Snobbery that blinds us to the dignity and equal rights of our brothers and sisters, pride that blinds us to our own faults, prejudice that blinds us to the truth, love of money that blinds us to spiritual values.

Kevin Lyon
Archdeacon of Glendalough


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