The Man Born Blind

Sunday’s Gospel was the story of the Man Born Blind, how Christ healed him up, of the blindness, and healed his heart also.

John 9:1-41 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.

The first healing was of the man’s eyes, with mud and spit.  The second was when he used those eyes to look on Jesus, and worshiped him.

As Father was giving his homily, it suddenly came to me that Les Miserables main characters show some form of blindness, and (mostly) healing. Read it online here. Here is a decent analysis of the characters.

The first connect is not from Victor Hugo’s wonderful book, but from the movie, the musical version. The song which proclaims to love another person is to see the face of God.

Consider how the characters all forward this idea.

Jean Valjean , a man brutalized into blindness to his own nature and to the world. All he can see is pain and misery, until M. Myriel the Bishop of Digne (Dignity?) opens his eyes to his own humanity. After that, he becomes a Christ to other people, relapsing into blindness only when his fear of return to prison overtakes him (which he gets over by testifying at the trial of the poor wretch arrested in his place.)

Fantine  was a foolish young maiden, blinded by the starry eyes of infatuation with her bourgeois boyfriend, who had her eyes opened to the awfulness of mankind when he abandoned her in her pregnancy. She sinks lower and lower, still clear-eyed, for her one goal is to benefit her daughter, Colette. She has a bad opinion of humanity, until “Monsieur Madeline” (Valjean) realizes his foolishness has injured her, and tends her as she dies.

Javert, blinded from birth, to humanity, due to his gutter-nativity, has his eyes fixed on the immovable stars of The Law (not of Justice, take note) until Jean Valjean suddenly shatters his carefully constructed, but brittle, concept of the World, and being unable to handle the sudden sight, declines to go on living.

Marius Pontmercy, blinded by revolutionary and romantic rhetoric, even despises Valjean until he discovers who it was rescued him from certain death.

Cosette also, loved her adopted father, but never saw him for what he was until he died.

Of the others, Thénardier is willfully blind throughout, untroubled by conscience or remorse, (in the book, he goes to America to engage in slave-trading).

Eponine, who is Thénardier’s daughter, is a truly tragic figure, with clear vision, and willing to die for her Marius, who didn’t seem to know she was a live person.

And lastly, Gavroche, Thernardier’s abandoned child, who despite living rough, sees the way the world is, and (in the case of the two boys he ‘adopts’) that he can make a difference. It was not for nothing in the movie, Javert places the Legion of Honor on the breast of the dead Gavroche.

So, the moral is, to what to whom, are we blind? And are we willing to have our eyes opened?

 

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