Fr Deacon Gregory’s homily on the Blind Man

Fr Deacon Gregory gave a homily on June 6, 2021, on the Sunday of the Blind Man (cf. John 9: 1-38).
You can listen to the recording here.

Here are his notes:

The Path of Faith

In the Name….

Christ is Risen!

This mornings Gospel speaks about the Lord’s healing of the man born blind from birth.

The common theme over the past three weeks has been a “Divine appointment” with our Lord

          First there was the paralytic man at the pool.  Though there were many sick waiting for the waters to stir and be healed, Jesus chose to minister to just the one man.

          Last week Jesus came to Jacob’s well at the time the Samaritan woman came to draw water.  It was an off time of day to draw water, but Jesus knew she would be there and He  spoke the words she needed to hear for her heart to turn toward salvation.

          Today as Jesus leaves the Temple, He encounters a blind man and ministers to Him.

Jesus meets each of these people at the time when there heart was prepared to hear His message, and be drawn to Him.  Each of these encounters gives us insight in how the Risen Lord meets with His people today. 

Jesus coming to the paralytic illustrates how He draws near to those suffering physical pain and disabilities.

He meets with the Samaritan woman when she is suffering from guilt and the consequences of bad choices.  Her heart is breaking and the Lord gives her hope and salvation. 

The blind man represents many of us, who’s eyes are opened to the truth of who Jesus is, and when we respond to His truth and obey His commands we live a life of faith.

Today’s Gospel begins with the words” “ As He passed by He saw a man blind from birth.”  This very innocent statement gives the impression that Jesus was strolling down the street when He met the blind man.  In fact Jesus had just left a life threatening confrontation at the Temple.

The 8th chapter of John records Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees and people  at the Temple.  Here Jesus speaks of His relationship with the Father and His mission to deliver us form sin.  He preached the truth about Himself, but the people were blind and would not accept His message. 

Here He gives the clearest statement of His divinity.  The people understood His claim and were preparing to stone Him.  The text says Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. 

It was not that Jesus was fearful and found a corner of the temple to hide from the people, but more Luke 4:30, when once more the people would not accept His message and wanted to throw Him off a cliff in Nazareth, He passed through the midst of them and no one touched Him.  The same happens here. 

So Jesus wasn’t running in fear, He left the temple grounds.   As He left His attention was drawn to a man born blind form birth. 

His disciples saw His interest in the man and asked who’s sin caused his blindness, his own or his parents.  Jesus replies neither the man or the parents sinned, but that the works of God might be glorified.  Blindness is a result of the fall, but this man’s blindness was going to show God’s glory.

Jesus again harkens back to chapter 8 and says; We must do the works of the Father.   He includes His followers, and by implication, the Church, in His ministry.  After explaining this, He spits on the ground, makes clay and applies it the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

This passage is interesting because throughout the conversation with His disciples, Jesus never talks to the blind man, nor does the blind man say a word to Jesus. 

Jesus spoke to the paralytic when healing Him.  His conversation with the Samaritan woman is the longest recorded conversation in the Gospel’s, but with the blind man Jesus says just one sentence.   The man obeys  and  is given both physical and spiritual sight.

I see the blind man as an illustration of the life of faith.

The blind man was a passive recipient of God’s grace.  We too are recipients of God’s grace.  In some ways it is like Jesus is having a conversation about each one of us.  Then He reaches down to touch us and tells to go wash in the pool of Siloam and our eyes are opened to faith.  We see Him in a different way. 

For some of us our washing was our baptism.  For others, who were baptized at birth Jesus touches our life in some way and we respond in faith and follow Him in obedience. 

The blind man obeyed Jesus’ command to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.  It seems like a simple command, but in fact the pool was quite far from the temple.  It would not be easy for the blind man to travel that distance without sight, but he obeyed and was given his sight.

In the same way when Jesus touches our life and asks us to do difficult tasks, we need to be obedient.  Some of His commands will be hard, it may be giving up a habit, or reconciling with some one with whom we’ve had a falling out.  The Lord will direct us in what we need to do.

 When we are obedient to His commands a blessing will come, we will see Jesus more clearly and  draw nearer to Him.

When the blind man returned from the pool people saw that he was different.  They weren’t sure what to make of him.  Some weren’t even sure it was the same man.  He kept insisting, “No. it is me really!”

This is another principle of the life of faith.  As we draw closer to Christ there should be a noticeable change in our life.  A true encounter with Christ will change us.  Our words, our actions and our attitudes should all change and be conformed to the commands of the Gospels’.

Jesus healed the paralytic, and later found him in the temple, presumably thanking God for the gift of physical health.

Jesus healed the heart of the Samaritan woman, and she who was an outcast drew others to Jesus, so they could hear His healing words.

The blind man received both physical and spiritual sight.

An encounter with Christ will begin to change us into His likeness.

When the neighbors saw the man who was blind but could now see they asked Him what had happened.  He gives the simple answer of what Jesus did to Him. 

Again we can take a lesson from his brief answer.  When people see you are different.  You speak different, you act different, you do not join in some conversations and activities and they ask why.  Follow the words of Peter; always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1Pet. 3:15)

When people question us about our life and faith, we should always be ready to point to Christ as the One who motivates our life, our speech and our actions.

Like the blind man not all will accept our devotion to Christ.  He was first brought before the Pharisees.  Who asked him how he received his sight.  Jesus performed this miracle on a Sabbath day.  Many of the Pharisees, saw Jesus as a law breaker, others realized that a sinner could not perform such a miracle. 

In the end they did not believe the man was even born blind, and called his parents.  They confirmed that he was indeed born blind, but did not know how he regained his sight.  They did not seem to rejoice in the miracle, but instead were intimidated by the Pharisees and distanced themselves from their son. 

The text says that those who confessed Jesus would be put out of the synagogue.  The synagogue was the center of Jewish life.  To be put out meant one  would be to lose all social standing and connections.  It would be very difficult to live in the community.  His parents feared being put out of the synagogue.

Just as in the time of Jesus’ earthly life, it is unfortunate that in our day taking a stand for Jesus can often cause division.  There will be some sympathetic ears, but in our day people often scoff at our faith or treat it with indifference.  Some people who are close to us may not stand by us when we talk of our faith in Christ.  If they do not have faith themselves, they do not want to be identified with a faith that is often becoming a target of ridicule.  They do not want to be ostracized.

The blind man teaches us how to handle ridicule.  In his final confrontation with the Pharisees, they continue to pressure him to deny Jesus.  The blind man continues to point to Jesus.  He questions their inability to explain how a man, who they reject as a sinner can open the eyes of a man blind from birth. 

He points out that if Jesus was not form God, He would be unable to perform such miracles.  The blind man holds to the truth of Jesus.  His persistence in affirming Jesus infuriates the Pharisees and they expel him from the synagogue. 

Hearing that the man was put out of the synagogue, Jesus finds him and reveals Himself to the man.  The man worships Jesus.  Jesus’  acceptance of the man’s worship is a further indication of His divinity.

Our faith in Jesus may cause confrontation with others.  We need to calmy point to Jesus as the One true God and Savior of mankind.   Our faith in Christ may have consequences and cause us difficulties at times. we must humbly accept the consequences and stand firm in our commitment to Christ. 

We do not know if this account happened in one day or over several days, but the blind man gives us a pattern to follow for the life of faith.  We must be obedient to the Lord’s commands, this should result in a change in our life in which we are witnesses for Christ.  We must remain steadfast in our faith and witness in the face of difficulties.  As we do these things we will become more conformed to the likeness of Christ and like the blind we too will truly worship our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen