Au In the beginning was the Word

1. Whatever the stage of blindness of the person born blind (Jn 9), catechumenal and liturgical tradition of the Church has seen it, in synthesis, the process of all who discover the light of Christ. The passage of the blind man is also a test that serves for revision of faith experience. Faith experience bursts in a concrete situation: that of a young man who passes from darkness to light.

2. When St. John’s gospel was written (about 90 A.D), his community – like Jesus – had in itself a long history of rejection and expulsion. But there were many who managed to see, only because they entered into it. Jewish people (very religious, from an old tradition, from heritage, as it was always) are blind, like the pagan world (atheist, agnostic,indifferent), that they prefer darkness to light.

3. Jesus finds a blind man – apparently by chance, as he passes: As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. We can recall the concrete circumstances where we found Christ, if it has been like this. It is Jesus who see us. We can not see him. We never saw him. We are blind from birth.

4. His disciples asked him who is to be blamed for this situation, for this blindness: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents? Is this really a personal or perhaps a familiar responsibility? Jesus answers: Neither he nor his parents sinned. Nobody is to be blamed. On the contrary, in this blindness the works of God are going to made visible.  Jesus is in the perspective of what can be done by God, which is curing. We must collaborate with Him, while it is still day.

5. This is the key: While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Christ is the light. With his presence, the day arrives. With his absence, the night arrives. Who does not find him, doesn’t know what the light is about. The one who doesn’t see the light, is blind, no matter how much religious tradition he may have behind him, or religious heritage in his genes. He is born blind and his original blindness has to be cured. After two thousand years, the words of Jesus in the last supper are still valid: In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live (Jn 14,19).

6. The feast of Tabernacles was taking place. During seven days, the people live in tents, as in the past, and ask for the rain. Every morning, the priests go in proccession, with palms, singing psalms (113-118), to Siloam pool to take water and bring it to the temple; on the seventh day the procession is repeated seven times. A useless rite: from chorus to ditch and from ditch to chorus. In the afternoon, the temple is illuminated with candles and torches; the whole town becomes illuminated. In this context, on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus announces a different water (Jn 7,37), another light (9,5). The people need a different water, another lake, another pool. The town needs a temple illuminated by another light.

7. The first thing that Jesus does to the blind is spread clay on his eyes. It is necessary to know the meaning of this preliminary treatment that Jesus applies to our body of clay (Gn 2,7). But something wrong happens, Jesus does something on Saturday that it is forbidden: he works (he cures), moreover at a moment when Jews were looking for him and wanted to kill him.

8. Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”(which means Sent). With surprising ease, the incredible happens: he went and washed, and came back able to see. The cure shows who is really the Sent and where is the true pool. Living tradition of the Church has found here a baptismal symbolism. Baptism is a regeneration bath (Tt 3,5), done in the holy pool (St.Cirilus of Jerusalem). Immersion baptism done in the first centuries expresses it clearly. In the crypt of Milan cathedral one can see the pool where possibly, St. Augustine could be baptised (year 387).  The pool of Sent is the community, from which maternal womb the new man, with light in his eyes, is born.

9. The neighbors notice the change. For them, he used to sit and beg, without iniciative, useless. Some said he is not him but just looks like him. And the questions start to arise and are repeated in different ways: ¿How were your eyes opened? ¿Where is he? The man who was once blind knows little about this man called Jesus. Nevertheless he is seeing already the wonders of God. 

10. The young cured man is brought to the Pharisees court: now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. The interrogation is centered in the transgression of the law, the sabbath law; so this man is not from God. Others perceived the sign and ask themselves: How could a sinful man do such a signs? In the middle of the quarrel, the cured man is urged to a personal committement. And he does so. He steps forward  and says: He is a prophet.

11. The Jews did not believe that the young man had been once blind, they do not see that he is changed, and they interrogate the parents. They confirm the identity of his son and his previous blindness. They do not know anything about the rest, they do not answer, nor reply; they are afraid: the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as a Messiah, he would be expelled from the synagogue. In a way more or less open, a frontal fight appears imminent. It is clear: “The one who goes into the pool is thrown away from the synagogue.”  

12. Really, the process was against Jesus. That is why the Jews disparage his person: He is a sinner, they tell the man who had been cured. But nobody could convince him of an indisputable fact: One thing I do know is that I was blind and I now I see. The Jews come back with their questions, but he refers them to his statement. Futhermore he ridicules them: Do you want to become his disciples, too? Between insults positions become clear: You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses. We know that  God spoke to Moses but we do not know where this one is from.

13. This is something amazing about all of this, the young man says to them: that you are responsible for the religious order and do not know where is he who opens my eyes. Futhermore, this is about one of the waiting signs: the eyes of the blind be opened (Is 35,5), a sign acomplished in the gospel of Jesus: the blind see (Mt 11,5). As expected, they expel him. The process of evangelization passes for authentic proof that it is the conflict assumed for the sake of Christ. As Jesus said: Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way (Lk 6, 26).

14. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him, and ask a question that soonner or later, he asks to everyone: Do you believe in the Son of Man? He answered and said: Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? How can he be identified? Jesus said to him: You have seeing him and the one speaking with you is he. The young man takes the last step in the evangelizacion process: this man, this prophet, is the Lord. The process culminates in the confession of faith:  I do believe, Lord. And he worshipped  him. 

15. It is really a judgment coming up so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind. That is to say, those who recognize his blindess, they see. And those who, being blind, say that they see, they stay in his blindness.

For personal and group reflexion: How do I appear before Jesus?
-         as a person born blind

-         with clay on his eyes, as preliminary treatment

-         sent to the pool of Siloam, a living community

-         washed in the pool, cured, with light in his eyes

-         my change is noticed by the neighbors

-         my parents do not know anything, they are afraid

-         brought to the Pharisees court, insulted, judged

-         thrown out of the synagogue, of the temple

-         as disciple that said: I do believe, Lord. I saw Him, he has spoken to me