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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[John 9]

AS Jesus was one day going out of the Temple, He saw a man who had been blind from his birth. The disciples who were with Jesus therefore asked Him: “Master, who hath sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

When Jesus had said this, He spat on the ground and made clay with the spittle, and rubbed the clay on the eyes of the man, and said to him: “Go, and wash in the pool of Siloe.” He went, washed, and came away seeing.

Now the neighbours that had known him wondered, and some of them said: “Is not this he that sat and begged?” But the others denied it, saying: “No, but he is like him.” The man himself, however, exclaimed: “I am he.” Then the blind man was brought before the Pharisees, and they asked him how he had received his sight. Then the man told them how it had happened. Then they asked him again: “What sayest thou of Him that hath opened thy eyes?” The man replied: “He is a prophet.”

But they, still unbelieving, and not satisfied with the man’s own testimony, called his parents, and asked them: “Is this your son who you say was born blind? How, then, doth he now see?” The parents replied: “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. But how he now seeth we know not. Ask himself; he is of age, let him speak for himself.” The parents said this, because they were afraid of the Jews, who had already agreed among themselves that if any man should confess Jesus to be the Christ he should be put of the synagogue.

Then the Pharisees called again the man who had been blind, and said to him: “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” But he replied: “Whether He be a sinner or not, I know not. One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Then they inquired again: “What did He do to thee? How did He open thy eyes?” The man answered: “I have told you already, and you have not heard. Why would you hear it again? Will you also become His disciples?”

Then they reviled him, saying: “Be thou His disciple, but we are the disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses. But as to this man we know not whence He is.” The man answered and said to them: “For in this is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence He is, and He hath opened my eyes. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, He could not do anything.” Then they, being angry, said to him: “Thou wast wholly born in sins; and dost thou teach us?” Thereupon they cast him out.

But Jesus met him and said to him: “Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” He answered: “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus replied: “Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He who talketh with thee.” Then the man said: “I believe, Lord!” and falling down he adored Him.

Our Lord’s testimony to His own Divinity. Jesus revealed Himself to the man born blind, as the Son of God: “He who is talking to thee is He—the Son of God.” Moreover, when the man fell down before Him and worshipped Him as God, Jesus suffered him to do it. Jesus is, then, the true Son of God, to whom divine worship is due.

Proof of our lord’s Divinity. Jesus said He was the Son of God, and He proved the truth of His words by a stupendous miracle. His enemies examined this miracle judicially, and hoped to disprove its existence, by entrapping the man with cross-questionings into some contradiction of his own words, which would have shown that the whole thing was a deception. But they could not succeed in their design, and the wonderful deed could not be denied by any one.

The prophecy of Isaias was literally fulfilled by our Lord’s cure of this man born blind, as well as by those of the deaf and dumb man, and of the man infirm for thirty-eight years, and also by many other cures: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free” (Is. 35:5, 6).

The cause of unbelief. In spite of all their efforts, the Pharisees could not disprove the miraculous cure of the man born blind. Why, then, did they not believe in it? Because they had not the will to believe and receive the truth. The great truth that Jesus is God was, it may almost be said, forced on them with violence, but they resolutely shut their eyes to it. Why did they thus refuse to see and believe? Because they hated our Lord. They had got it once for all into their heads that the Messias would come as a great liberator and conqueror who would enable them to realize their political aspirations. Jesus was poor and humble, redeeming the people only from sin and death, and their sensual nature refused to acknowledge any such Messias. Added to this there must be taken into consideration their own personal interests. They had been, hitherto, the acknowledged leaders of the people, who honoured them as the models of virtue and justice. Jesus would not admit this justice of theirs, and ruthlessly showed up their hypocrisy. The greater the following of Jesus, the less was their own; and thus it was that their self-interest as well as their pride made them hostile to our Lord. Under no circumstances would they themselves acknowledge Him as the Messias, and they used every means to prevent the people from doing so. Thus, even before this miracle and their examination of it, they had issued an edict that any one who should say that our Lord was the Christ should be put out of the synagogue. They would not believe; nor would they have believed, if Jesus had worked even greater miracles than He did.

Increase of faith. The man born blind corresponded with grace. He obeyed Jesus, believing that He was able to cure him by the washing of his eyes in the pool of Siloe. The cure, when obtained, increased his faith, and he was convinced that Jesus was a prophet sent by God, who had received power from Him. He suffered persecution on account of his faith, and thus obtained the further grace of hearing from our Lord’s own lips that He was the Son of God. The man born blind received not only the natural gift of sight, but with it the supernatural gift of faith. Our Lord’s miracle was the cause of salvation to him, whereas it was the cause of ruin to the Pharisees, and served only to harden them in their obstinacy.

Confession of faith. The man born blind confessed his faith in Jesus most courageously and unwaveringly. His parents allowed themselves to be intimidated, but he feared neither the anger nor the threats of the Pharisees, and permitted nothing to turn him from the truth, or lead him to contradict his own words.

Effects of holy Baptism. The pool of Siloe, by washing in which the blind man received his sight, was a type of Baptism, by the washing of which those who are born spiritually blind through original sin, receive their sight, and the light of faith. Whence Baptism used to be called the Sacrament of “illumination”.

The outward signs of the Sacraments. The outward means used by our Lord for the cure of the man born blind, namely the anointing with clay and the washing with water, could not, of themselves, have restored his sight. But it was our Lord’s almighty will that these ceremonies should be the means by which He gave sight to the blind man. They were types of the outward signs in the Sacraments, which are the means chosen by God for imparting the inward and supernatural graces which are given to us in the holy Sacraments.

Confidence in Divine Providence. The poor man’s life-long blindness was apparently a very great misfortune. It was not so really; for God ordained that this blindness should not only tend to the glory of His Son, but should be the cause of the salvation of him for whom it was apparently a terrible affliction. We should never murmur against what is sent to us by God, but should always be satisfied, and say to ourselves: “The All-wise God alone knows to what good end such and such an apparent misfortune may lead.”

APPLICATION. Sight is the greatest and most precious of God’s natural gifts to us. To understand its value you must try to imagine what it would be like had you been born blind. Have you ever thanked God for your good eye-sight? Show your gratitude by keeping a guard over your eyes. Do not let them wander about when you are in church; and above all things do not use them for any unworthy purpose.

But you must thank God still more for the supernatural light of faith, and resolve that all your life through you will bravely confess the holy Catholic Faith by word and by deed.








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