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03.22.2020 Fourth Sunday of Lent

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

“He went, washed and received his sight”

For Picture Art Explanations:


John 9:1-41

1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.


The Context

In the Gospel of John the symbols and actions (signs) of Jesus have different levels of interpretation. If we find in the John’s Gospel any story with a possible second meaning, we are sure that both meanings make sense.

As we saw in the story of the Samaritan Woman, the symbolism of water is understood differently by the woman who thinks that Jesus is talking about drawing water from a well and by Jesus who explains that He brings the “living water”, the power of the Spirit of God for humanity.

In his encounter with Jesus during the night, Nicodemus thinks that Jesus means that one should go back to the mother’s womb to be born again in the flesh, while Jesus speaks about being born to New Life by living according to the ‘Spirit’ of God.

The story of the man born blind, the fifth of the signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John, is introduced to illustrate the saying, “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12; 9:5). The narrative shows the contrast between Jesus (light) and the Jews (blindness). We will see how those around him have shown to be lacking the light of faith, while Jesus is ready to give them back that light.

A Miracle on the Sabbath

The drama takes place on a Sabbath day, and Jesus uses two materials to work his miracle: spittle and mud.

This action (sign) of Jesus brings us back to what happened in the Garden of Eden when, in the beginning, God created man out of the soil[1].

Jesus is not simply working a miracle. This sign is an anticipation of his death on the Cross, when Jesus redeemed humanity from death, and gave us the True Light and Eternal Life. He is saving us from the snares of sin and death.

However, those who see him are only able to see that He does three things which are not allowed on a Sabbath:

1. to spit on the ground,

2. to make mud with his hands,

3. and to heal a man.

Jesus is well aware that a three-way breach of the Law of Sabbath will not go unnoticed. Those who knew the man born blind thought then that they had found enough reasons to accuse him in front of the Pharisees[2].

The Light of the World

Also the disciples show their shortsightedness as they interpret the disability of the man as a fruit of sin. They even dared to pass judgement on him and his parents[3]. The disciples are all blind, too. Jesus, with this healing will bring them and all those who walk in the darkness of sin to the “light” because He is Light of the World.

The Waters of Baptism

There is yet another sign in this story: the command of Jesus to the man to wash at the pool of Siloam[4]. It is in the waters of the pool where the blind man finds the New Life of the Spirit. Whoever reads the Gospel is reminded of the Baptismal Font that inaugurates the life of grace that springs up for the first time in Calvary, when “living water” flows from the pierced side of Jesus on the Cross.

The man born blind finds his new life as he washes his eyes in those waters of Baptism.

The Divisions

The blind man can see, but his neighbours and the Pharisees are confused and divided. They do not know what to make out of his healing. They do not understand what happened to him. They want to deny the truth of what has happened and they decide to condemn Jesus[5].

The Gradual Light of Faith

It is only the man born blind who is able to know his own identity and, what is more important, to discover gradually the true identity of the Man who healed him.

As the story evolves, his faith in Jesus grows in depth. We see how this happened to the Samaritan Woman, too. The man born blind discovered Jesus in three stages and then he becomes an apostle, a witness of the healing power of Jesus.

1. First, he is able to identify his Healer simply as “the man called Jesus”;

2. then, he identifies him as a “prophet” (v. 17; cf. 4:19);

3. and finally, the man grows into full awareness of the truth of Jesus’ identity (cf. v 38) as “Lord”. He falls in true adoration of Jesus as the Son of God.

This story underlines that blindness is not determined simply by seeing or not seeing, but by recognizing the revelation of God in Jesus Christ through His signs (cf. vv.3, 41).


How often we have missed the hidden treasures of the Kingdom when we just focused on the wrong things.

Worried about formalities and other’s behaviour, we may miss the important truth that Salvation is at hand for us all as we practice our works of mercy.

Jesus cared about people, not about money, things or institutions.

We want to have our eyes “fully” open so that we may not miss the good things that happen around us.

The call for us is to open our senses to see the needs of our neighbours; to open our hands to help those in need, and our open our ears and our understanding that we may genuinely listen to others.

Grant us, Lord, full knowledge of our own selves so as to serve you in our brothers and sisters in freedom and generosity.


The contact of Jesus’ Hands with our eyes brings us Light and Healing. Our faith grows when Jesus prays over us.

We see Jesus willing to restore the man born blind to his full dignity and health.

Time and again, we need to overcome our self-righteousness. We can acknowledge, in simplicity and without fear, that we need Jesus to heal us.

We see Jesus willing to come to our aid and meet us where we are.

We remember how in our baptism we experienced death to sin and the life in Grace.

You Are Mine

David Haas

I will come to you in the silence

I will lift you from all your fear

You will hear My voice

I claim you as My choice

Be still, and know I am near.

I am hope for all who are hopeless

I am eyes for all who long to see

In the shadows of the night,

I will be your light

Come and rest in Me.

Do not be afraid, I am with you

I have called you each by name

Come and follow Me

I will bring you home

I love you and you are mine.

I am strength for all the despairing

Healing for the ones who dwell in shame

All the blind will see, the lame will all run free

And all will know My name.

Do not be afraid, I am with you

I have called you each by name

Come and follow Me

I will bring you home

I love you and you are mine.


[1] Gen.2:7: “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being”. [2] The only Old Testament cure from blindness is found in Tobit (cf. Tb 7:7; 11:7–13; 14:1–2), but Tobit was not born blind.

[3] Jn 5:14, and Ex 20:5, show how parents’ sins were visited upon their children (cf. Ez 18:20; Lk 13:2). Jesus denies such a cause and emphasizes the purpose: the infirmity was providential.

[4] It might be a test of faith. Cf. 2 Kgs 5:10–14. The water tunnel Siloam (= Sent) is used as a symbol of Jesus, who was sent by his Father.

[5] V. 22: Rejection/excommunication from the synagogue of Jews who confessed Jesus as Messiah seems to have begun ca. 85 A.D., when the curse against the heretics was introduced into the “Eighteen Benedictions.”

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