First Reading: 1 Samuel 16, 1b, 6 – 7, 10 – 13
Responsorial Psalm: 23
Second Reading: Ephesians 5.8 – 14
Gospel: John 9. 1 – 41
It’s hard to know why Jesus went through the ritual of the spittle, the mud, and the water, in order
to heal the man. He healed other blind people with a touch, or simply a word. It might well have
been a test of faith. He sent the ten lepers on their way, and they were healed as they journeyed
along. He sent the centurion home and, before he reached home he got word that his servant was
healed. I often think that this is how Jesus heals many of us. We ask for his healing, and nothing
seems to happen immediately. Maybe, after asking for his healing, we should go on our way, and
expect to notice the healing taking place gradually as time goes by.
As the story unfolds, we notice that the man’s eyes were really opened, and that includes the eyes
of his soul. Clearly Jesus was intent on healing the total person, or not at all. We don’t imagine
him healing someone, and then having that person going away still filled with resentment against
another. Such a person was not really healed at all. The man in today’s gospel was totally healed,
and he ended up on his knees, worshipping Jesus.
A practical and simple prayer is “Lord, that I may see.” It is a short prayer, but when it comes
from the depths of my heart, it is a powerful prayer. Remember that other blind man named
Bartimeus? He was told that Jesus was passing by, and he was determined to get his attention.
Those around him tried to silence him, but he shouted all the louder. And he also was cured. To
another man Jesus asked the pointed question, “Do you want to be healed?’
The greatest good we can do for others is not by giving them money, though that can also be
needed at times, but in revealing their own riches to them. It is good to affirm others and make
them feel both loved and worthwhile. Many people have grown up with a poor self-image, and
they just cannot see the good in themselves. This is another form of blindness, and it is a
blindness in others that any one of us can heal. The most certain proof that the Spirit of God lives
in you is your willingness and ability to affirm and bring a blessing to other people.
The healing of the blind man by Jesus involved clay, spittle, smearing or anointing of the eyes
with the saliva and a washing in water. Early baptismal rituals incorporated similar gestures and

the sacrament of baptism was referred to as enlightenment. In the context of the Lenten RCIA
scrutinies, the Church challenges us to see this man’s journey from darkness to light as a
paradigm for our own spiritual lives—from the darkness of doubt to belief (for catechumens
preparing for Baptism); from the darkness of sin to the light of repentance, mercy, and freedom
(for those of us already baptized, who are called to renew our Baptismal promises, and to “own”
our Baptism more consciously). From earliest times, today’s Gospel story has been associated
with Baptism. Just as the blind man went down into the waters of Siloam and came up whole, so
also believers who are immersed in the waters of Baptism come up spiritually whole, totally
healed of the spiritual blindness with which all of us are born. Raymond Brown comments that in
the lectionaries and liturgical books of the early Church, there developed the practice of three
examinations before one’s Baptism. These correspond to the three interrogations of the man born
blind. When the catechumens had passed their examinations, and were judged worthy of
Baptism, the Gospel book was solemnly opened and the ninth chapter of John was read, with the
confession of the blind man, “I do believe, Lord,” serving as the climax of the service. Paintings
on the walls of the catacombs of Rome portray Jesus healing the man born blind as a symbol of
Holy Baptism. One of the writings from that time says: “Happy is the Sacrament of our water, in
that, by washing away the sins of our earthly blindness, we are set free unto eternal life.” The
early Christians looked at their Baptism as leaving behind blindness and darkness and stepping
into the glorious light of God. In other words, they realized that their becoming Christians and
then continuing as followers of Christ, was indeed a miracle – as great as, if not greater than, the
healing of the physical blindness of the man in the Gospel today.

The spiritual blindness of the Pharisees: The Pharisees suffered from spiritual blindness.  They
were blind to the Holy Spirit.  They had the externals of religion but lacked the spirit of Jesus’
love.  They were also blind to the suffering and pain right before their eyes. They refused to see
pain and injustice.  There was no compassion in their hearts.  In short, they were truly blind both
to the Holy Spirit and to the human misery around them. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual
sight is paralleled by the opponents’ descent into spiritual blindness.” (Fr. Harrington). Here is a
contrast between those who know they are blind and those who claim to see. According to these

blind Pharisees, Jesus, by healing the blind man doubly broke the Sabbath law, which forbade
works of healing, and also kneading which was involved in making clay of spittle and dust.
Raymond Brown adds a third and fourth reason that increased the seriousness of what Jesus had
done: in the Jewish tradition: “there was an opinion that it was not permitted to anoint an eye on
the Sabbath,” and “one may not put fasting spittle on the eyes on the Sabbath.” So, they
concluded, “The man who did this cannot be from God, because he does not obey the Sabbath
Spiritual blindness of modern Pharisees: Although the Pharisees have long since disappeared
from history, there are still many among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice.
Spiritual blindness is very common in modern times. Perhaps, the most awful disease in our
country today is the spiritual blindness which refuses to see the truths of God’s revelation, and 
even to admit that God or Christ exists.   In their pride, the spiritually blind claim that everything
ends with death and that there is no life after death.  They propagate their errors and accuse
believers of childish credulity and folly.  They ignore the gifts of the intellect we all possess.
 God’s revelation through Christ informs us that there is a future life awaiting us in which our
spiritual faculties and our transformed bodies will be fully and fittingly glorified. According to
Pope Benedict XVI, the miracle of the healing of the blind man is a sign that Christ wants not
only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision, so that our Faith may become ever
deeper and we may recognize Him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and
leads men and women to live as “children of the light” (Lenten message-2011).

We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. Physiologically, the “blind-spot” is the
part of our eye where vision is not experienced. It is the spot where the optic nerve enters the
eyeball. A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed
by the driver.   In real life, we all have blind-spots — in our marriages, our parenting, our work
habits, and our personalities.  We often wish   to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light.
 It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees:  religious
in worship, in frequenting the Sacraments, in prayer-life, in tithing, and in knowledge of the
Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice, and pain around them.  Let us remember, however, that

Jesus wants to heal our blind spots.  We need to ask Jesus to remove from us the root causes of
our blindness, among them, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction
to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay,
“God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more
nearly” day by day.

We need to get rid of cultural blindness.  Our culture also has blind-spots.  Often it is blind to
things like love, happiness, marriage, and true, committed sexual love in marriage.  Our
culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering
of the world around us.  Our culture, our media, our movies and our values, are often blind as to
what it means to love selflessly and sacrificially. Our culture, in spite of scientific proofs, is blind
to the reality that life begins at the moment of conception, and it callously promotes abortion. We
continue to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual
“marriages,” transgenderism,  euthanasia, and human cloning, and we refuse to see the
consequences of godless behavior on human society. In the name of individual rights, the radical
left in our society decries any public demonstration of religious beliefs and practices, or the
public appearance of traditional values, questioning the substance of family values. The radical
right, on the other hand, decries the immorality of our times, without lifting a finger to help the
poor and the underprivileged and without ever questioning unjust foreign policies and wars.
This   cultural blindness can only be overcome as each one of us enters the living experience of
having Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of
the Bible and a genuine Sacramental life.

We need to pray for clear vision:  Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the United States
Congress used to pray, “Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand
for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”  Today’s Gospel
challenges our ability to see clearly.   Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular
religion?  Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners?  Do we fail to see
God at work in our lives because He has shown us no miracles?  Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is

the art of seeing things invisible.”  Let us remember that this gift belongs to those who can see
the good hidden in the kernels of suffering and of failure.  It resides in those who never give up
hope.  Let us pray for the grace to see and experience the presence of a loving and forgiving God.
Let us not allow the world and Satan to blind us so that we forget our real identity and call – that
we have been created by God and bought with the blood of Jesus; that we have been adopted as
God’s chosen children; and,  consequently, that our role is to become God’s representatives in
our community and our world. We are called to “stand out” by the way we show love and
concern for others. We are called to promote justice and peace; to set an example of what it
means to live according to God’s way. We are called to discipleship – that means leading a
disciplined life of prayer, the study of God’s Word, worship with our fellow Christians, and
standing out in the crowd (even though that may be difficult to do), when it means sticking up for
those who are being wronged and confessing that Christ in our lives does make a difference. It’s
so easy to miss the point of what it means to be a Christian, and we end up “blending in” and fail
to become a positive and powerful influence bringing about positive changes in people’s lives
and in our world. Lent is a good time to take stock of how we are affected by this blindness, to
see just how blind we have been to Jesus and His call to discipleship, and to realise how often we
have preferred to stay blind. Lent is a good time to renew our vision and fix our eyes again on the
Saviour who came so that we can be assured of forgiveness for such blindness, for the times
when Jesus has come to us through his word and we have been too blind to see him, and too deaf
to hear him calling us to action.

“Lord give me Your eyes.” This is a beautiful prayer which enables us to walk in the true light of
Christ, a prayer that God always seems to answer – that we may see things as Christ, that is, in
the light of faith. This is also a very useful prayer to pray when we are conversing with someone,
so that we can see that person as Christ sees him or her. The prayer  is especially helpful  when
we encounter someone who tries our patience, for rather than continuing to see  only the person’s
irritating defects, we are helped by the Lord to see what He finds so lovable in that person — 
what, in fact, would lead Him to trade his own life for that person all over again if he had to. The
prayer is  recommended also to those of us who have difficulty overcoming negative thoughts

and habitual criticism of others. We pray, “Lord, give me your eyes,” so that we may see not only
the good things that God has given the person, but also that we may be able to look with
compassion on the various hardships that the other person has endured, leading to some of that
person’s irritating habits. It is useful also to those  of us who are encountering serious Crosses.
With the eyes of Faith, we can see those crosses not so much as mortifications but as gifts from
God to help us  to grow in holiness, to acquire Christ’s own virtues, to unite ourselves to Christ
on the Cross and follow him up close all the way through the Cross to glory. It is helpful to those
of us who have a problem with our own self-esteem and morale, for when we turn to Jesus to ask
for His eyes, we are asking him to help us  that we can discover our own selves in our true
dignity and recognize how tremendously lovable we are to God. For those of us who have trouble
with contrition, examining our lives and hearts from God’s perspective — with God‘s eyes —
we  will be better able to see just how horrible our sins are and what each of them cost the Lord.
God bless.