The message of today’s Gospel is enlightenment. This reading describes the miracle of how Jesus healed a man who was born blind. The man is nameless in this story, however, he represents our human race. The story is rich in symbolism with references to light and darkness, clay, living water and washing. In addition, we notice that blindness and sight are mentioned in 24 of the 41 verses. John’s gospel depicts how this miracle affected not only the man who received his sight, but also the community in which he lived.
Before Jesus healed the man, He said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Immediately after saying this, Jesus spat on the ground and smeared clay on the man’s eyes. The first light the blind man saw was through his encounter with Jesus. Jesus purposely sought out this man who had been blind from birth. In this story, two healings occurred. On a physical level, Jesus healed his vision and ended his suffering. Then on a spiritual level, Jesus was concerned that the man had been expelled from the synagogue. Although this man could no longer worship in the synagogue, Jesus allowed this man to worship him when he came to understand that Jesus was the Son of God.
Jesus is the light and removes fear from our lives so that we might believe and have faith. Jesus cares when we are suffering. Many people may ask why does God allow suffering? During his public ministry, Jesus eased the suffering of all the sick people he encountered. We should never doubt that the Lord is with us during our own periods of suffering. There is never a time in our lives that we suffer alone.
This narrative of enlightenment is most relevant to our lives today. Last weekend, during the Apostolic trip to Iraq, Pope Francis was the staunch bearer of light in an incredibly dangerous region of the world for Christians. People have suffered greatly from the long war, terrorist attacks, global health crisis and religious persecution.
Pope Francis said,” Surely there will be moments when faith can waiver, when it seems that God does not see or act.” “At times like these,” the Holy Father underscored, “remember that Jesus is by your side. Do not stop dreaming! Do not give up! Do not lose hope! The road to a full recovery may still be long, but I ask you, please, do not grow discouraged.”
Pope Francis appealed for the conversion of hearts and for the triumph of a culture of life, reconciliation and fraternal love between all men and women, with respect for differences and diverse religious traditions, in an effort to build a future of unity and cooperation between all people of good will. Through his remarks and gestures, Pope Francis showed us the importance of opening our eyes and melting our hardened hearts. He emphasized, “the fundamental values of our common humanity, values in the name of which we can and must cooperate, build and dialogue, pardon and grow.”
Jesus did not leave the blind man alone after his initial healing and he will never abandon or reject us. He always walks by our side and accompanies us – no matter what happens to us in our life. Let us have complete trust in the depth of Jesus’ love for us. Jesus is the light of the world that enables us to see correctly.