A reading and a reflection
St John 9: 35 – 41
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
In his second interrogation by the Pharisees, the blind man whom Jesus had healed had given an astonishing testimony – only someone who came from God could open the eyes of a man who had been blind from birth. The Pharisees were scunnered (to use a good Scots word) when a man who had been born blind because of the sin of his parents had the temerity to suggest that he understood better than they what was going on. They had thrown him out of the synagogue, end of. But Jesus sought him out.
Physically the man could see. Mentally, his understanding of what had happened had come a long way, but the picture was a bit out of focus. He was hazy about who this prophet from God really was. It was Jesus’ declaration “I am he” that triggered a lightbulb moment and the response “I believe”. It was akin to the flash of recognition experienced in the road to Emmaus story when Jesus broke bread with the travellers or, more prosaically, when the autofocus on the camera in your smartphone snaps in and the picture suddenly becomes clear.
Trammelled by their preconceptions, the Pharisees just could not get it.
Surely not them!
Pharisees, at least as depicted in the Gospels, were notoriously obsessed by the minutiae of the Law, deploying legalistic nit-picking and subtle nuance to prove that they were right. Their understanding was the only possible one.
Remind you of anyone?
We live at a time where semi-fake news, subtle bending of the truth and answering similar but less pointed questions not asked are taken as genuine political discourse. Sometimes discourse within the Christian community can take on the same flavour, especially on questions such as sexuality, abuse, and financial morality. Can we truly say “surely we are not blind”?
God, it’s so easy to say “I see”
when what we see is so coloured
by our own prejudices and limited insight
that focus is, at best, hazy.
Grant us that clarity of vision
which comes with humility and acceptance
and realizing that it is through Christ Jesus
that true sight and vision is to be found.