Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Once again, this weekend we take our Scriptural readings from Year A, rather than Year C. As I mentioned last week, these readings correspond very well to the scrutinies, special rites and prayers that accompany those who are preparing to be initiated into the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil. These readings and their accompanying rites have a special significance for we who are already part of the Catholic Church, as well. Last week, we saw our Lord’s kindness and mercy extended to the Samaritan woman, and how, in the course of their conversation, he revealed Himself to be the Messiah. With that knowledge, the woman goes off to invite her neighbors to meet the Lord. Today, Jesus encounters a man born blind, to whom He gives the gift of sight, and also reveals Himself to be the Messiah. Like the Samaritan woman, the formerly blind man will testify to the grace He received and encourage those he meets to be disciples of Jesus as well. Whether we are long-time Catholics or on our way to embracing the faith, today we are reminded of the eyes of faith with which Jesus wants us to see Him, that we might know His saving grace and mercy, and through that powerful experience, bear witness to Him to those we meet.
Jesus, the light of the world, gives sight to the blind man. His method is at once unusual and highly significant. He spits on the ground to make clay which he smears on the eyes of the blind man. The act of making clay and using it to give sight reminds us immediately of how God created the first man in the book of Genesis. God took clay, which He had made, and formed it into the man, Adam. When Jesus does this, he is showing Himself to be the Creator, the one who gives life and light. After putting the clay on his eyes, Jesus sends the blind man to bathe in the pool of Siloam, which John tells us means “Sent.” The bathing in the pool calls to mind the gift of Baptism, for it is in Baptism that we are given the eyes of faith. Once he has been touched by the Creator and washed in the pool, not only does the blind man see with new, physical eyes, he also sees with the eyes of faith and believes in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
There is a gradual revelation of the Messiah’s identity in this short passage. After he has been cured, the man is questioned vigorously by the Pharisees. While they mistreat him, the man remains firm in his conviction that the one who healed him is good, and that he wants to be a disciple. Between his encounters with Jesus, the man born blind testifies to the healing that Jesus has given him. He washed in the pool called “Sent” and became a witness. So too, in baptism, we both receive healing grace and receive a mission. By virtue of our baptism, we are sent to be witnesses to the world of the saving grace offered by Jesus. It is in his second encounter with Jesus that his faith is confirmed. When one is baptized, the Lord Jesus comes to them in a profound way, but they come to know and understand Jesus gradually, over time. For those preparing to enter the Church, and for we who have been Catholic for some time, this Gospel reminds us that living as disciples is a lifelong process.
“Do you want to become his disciple, too?” Throughout the world, men and women are answering this question affirmatively. Today, in the second scrutiny, they ask for eyes of faith so that they can see the gift of God more clearly, and truly become disciples. But this question is not directed only at those who are beginning their journey toward conversion. It is directed to each of us. No matter how long we have been followers of Jesus, this question is always offered for our consideration. It is a question that resonates because discipleship is a daily decision. Let us pray for those who are at the beginning of their journey of discipleship, and ask the Lord for grace for ourselves, that we may always say yes to the invitation to be disciples of the Lord Jesus.