– Fernando Armellini
Claretian Publications, Macau
In the story of the man born blind every Christian can easily recognize one’s own story. Before meeting Christ he was blind, then the Master gave him his sight. This is symbolic of the journey to faith!
The method used for healing is strange: the mud, saliva… Jesus adapts to the mentality of the people of his time who believed that saliva is a concentration of breath, of the spirit, of the strength of a person. By breath, the Spirit of Jesus, the new and enlightened man is born reminding us with the imagery of the creation of Adam.
The blind man is asked to wash in the water of ‘Siloam’ meaning ‘sent’. The reference to Jesus—the One sent by the Father—is explicit. He is God’s water, that which was promised to the Samaritan woman, who cures the man’s blindness.
After the healing even his neighbors do not recognize him. The water which is the word of Christ has changed him so much and opened his eyes. It made him discover how meaningless was the life he led. It created a new and enlightened man.
The starting point of the spiritual journey of the disciple is the awareness of not knowing Christ and to feel the need to know something more. That is why the blind man confesses that he does not know the man who healed him.
The position taken by Pharisees is a reminder of the danger of anyone who starts to know Christ. He clings to his own securities and convictions. He stubbornly refuses any change and will remain a slave to the darkness. The blind man who is conscious of “not knowing” instead believes that Jesus is a prophet.
His parents show fear to stand by the blind man. It is the story of every disciple. He is no longer understood, is abandoned and sometimes even betrayed by the people most dear. In the replies to the final questions of the authorities we can grasp the characteristics that distinguish those who are enlightened by Christ.
He is first of all free. He does not sell his head to anyone. He confesses what he thinks. “He is a prophet” in spite of the Pharisees pushing him to call Jesus, a sinner.
He is brave: he rejects any form of subservience, not intimidated by those who are abusing their power, when they insult, threaten, and resort to violence (vv. 24ff).
He is sincere: he does not renounce to tell the truth even when this is uncomfortable or not welcomed by those who are at the top, who are used to getting approvals and applause from flatterers.