Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His seeing is a searching gaze, the precursor for pursuing grace. “It was [Jesus] who saw the blind man, not the blind man who came to Jesus,” says John Chrysostom. Jesus makes the first move in every instance. “You did not choose me, I chose you” (John 15:16). To state this more dramatically: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). In this context, we may say, “in that while we were blind, Christ illumined us through baptism into his death and resurrection.” Who, after all, is the man blind from birth? “The blind man is the human race,” says St. Augustine. “If evil has so taken root within us, every person is born mentally blind.”
God creates and God heals. Just as God creates the human being from the dust of the earth, Jesus recreates humanity by a corresponding act. “He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6). A new creation and new vision are about to be. Still, the man does not see.
A baptism follows, “Then he went and washed and came back able to see” (John 9:7). The healing/cleansing is the cause of controversy, principally because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. The man, now illuminated, is bold to face interrogation and revilement, answering, as he is able, with increasing confidence, until, finally, he declares himself a disciple. “See,” says St. Augustine, he has become the herald of grace; see, he preaches the gospel; endowed with sight, he becomes a confessor.” This is the role of all the baptized. Enlightened, we are bold to bear witness to the One who is the light of the world, the One who pours the light of grace into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that is given to us. We bear witness to our new life which is not strictly our life, but the life of Christ in us.
This is a great mystery. Though enlightened, we cannot see all the workings of Christ. The working of God perceived by our senses and accessible, though in a limited way, to our thought, is a very small measure of what God is doing and how God works. We do not, fortunately, have to know all that the great physician knows. We have only to trust in his care and skill and love.
Christ pours his light into us we know not how. John Chrysostom summarizes, “If anyone asks, ‘How then did he recover his sight when he had removed the clay?’ he will hear no other answer from us than that we know not the manner. And what wonder if we know it not, for not even the Evangelist knew, nor the very man that was healed. What had been done he knew, but the manner of doing it he could not comprehend.” The grace we have is a grace we cannot fully comprehend. We can, however, receive it and bear witness to it.
I was blind and now I see. He who is called Jesus anointed me and baptized me into his death and raised me to a whole new life of light and grace and glory. “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14)
Look It Up: Ps. 119:105
Think About It: The light of Christ guides and infuses trust.