Christ: The Ultimate Friend
- March 19, 2023
- Fourth Sunday of Lent
- Brian Flanagan
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “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.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said,“I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, You know how blind I am to your presence and work in my life. In this time of prayer, I renew my faith—I believe in your enduring presence. I renew my hope in your promise of eternal life. I love you for the work you have already done and are continuing to do.
1. The Works of God: Jews of the first century commonly regarded blindness (or any physical ailment, for that matter) as a manifestation of sin. They asked Jesus, therefore, who it was who sinned. Jesus responded: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” St. Paul recounted that the Lord once told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s power becomes perfectly manifest in the poverty and blindness of our human condition, especially when we are open to his grace and his work in us.
2. The Transformation of Healing: After Christ healed the blind man, the Pharisees had trouble recognizing him: “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” The work of Christ in us, which heals and converts us, is a transformative work that can change the way others perceive us. The season of Lent is the perfect time to allow the Lord to perfect this transformation in us, but it can come at a cost. People who think they know us might be tempted to criticize us for our Lenten fasts or mortifications, claiming we’re no longer the same person. Are we willing to endure this criticism if it means transformation into Christ?
3. “Even If My Father and Mother Forsake Me…”: The transformation that Christ worked in the blind man had serious repercussions for him: people didn’t recognize him, and his own parents distanced themselves from him. “He is of age; question him,” his parents said. However, he was not totally forsaken. Jesus approached him and revealed himself to be the Son of Man. For the ex-blind man, the words of Psalm 27 came true: “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in” (Psalms 27:10). We need faith to seek out Christ when friends and family seem to misunderstand or reject us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, enlighten the eyes of my heart to see you for who you truly are: the Son of Man, the Savior of the World. Give me the strength to cling to you, even when those I love seem to reject me or distance themselves from me.
Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will extend my friendship to someone in my workplace/school who seems to be an outcast.
For Further Reflection: Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life, Bob Schuchts.
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