From darkness into the radiance of faith

By Rev. John Schwantes, S.J., Jesuit associate director, Faber Center

This reflection is based on the scripture story for the fourth Sunday of Lent: John 9: The Man Born Blind.

The heavy, anxious mood that has descended on our country led me to hear the gospel of the blind man in a new way.

When Jesus saw the man blind from birth, the disciples quickly asked him whose sin had caused his blindness, his own or his parents. Jesus’ response puzzled them. “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God be made visible through him… While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” he said.

Jesus then made a paste of clay with his saliva and smeared it on the blind man’s eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. He went, washed, and returned able to see. This man never asked to be cured.

The rest of the gospel is about the religious leaders’ efforts to undermine the blind man’s experience of being healed by Jesus. The more they harassed him, the deeper his faith in Jesus became.

Finally, they threw him out of the temple. Jesus found the blind man and revealed Himself as the Messiah. The cured man said, “I do believe, Lord.” And he worshiped Jesus.

As the COVID-19 crisis has intensified, so has uncertainty and fear. In this time of anxiety, we – like the disciples – may find ourselves caught up in the blame game.

As fear increases, so can our need to find a scapegoat. It can overtake us.

When Jesus heals the blind man without being asked, He is reminding us that God is always attentive and concerned about us and all creation. We are not alone.

In the midst of panic buying, we have many examples of people responding to the needs of others.  Many healthcare workers are putting themselves at great risk continue to care for the sick. Other compassionate people quietly reach out to assist their neighbors.

As we live through these days, may we discover that our faith in Jesus is more like that of the blind man than we thought.

“By the mystery of the incarnation, he has led the human race that walked in darkness into the radiance of the faith.”