Have you ever seen the show, Myth Busters? I used to love to watch that show. They would always try to prove, or disprove, the most ridiculous things. Well actually the myths weren’t that ridiculous it was the way that they would go about the investigation that was ridiculous. If you could solver the premise with one peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they would use 100. If the problem called for one small firecracker, they would use a ton of explosives. There was one show, that I remember, where they wanted to test the idea that the pirates of the Caribbean would wear their eye patches so that they could see in the dark.
The idea was that they were not all wearing patches because they couldn’t stop running through the living room with sharp pencils in their hand (my mother would always warn me of that inevitable catastrophe) it was for a more cunning purpose. You see the show hypothesized that in the event of a sea battle, and their ship was being boarded they would have to fight both above and below deck. Above deck was the bright Caribbean sunshine and below deck was pitch black, there were no windows and few portals.
They proposed that as the pirate would venture below deck, they would flip up the eye patch and viola they could see in the dark.
The MythBusters, living up to their reputation, created this elaborate set with stairs, pirate cut outs and bright spotlights. In the end, they showed that it worked, the patch preserved their night vision and actually allowed the actors to battel effectively “below deck”. But they could not prove whether this was, in fact, a battle strategy for the Caribbean pirates. Something about musket accidents, damp gun powder and a preponderance for clumsiness at sea, might actually had more to do with the eye patches than night vision. But never mind, it made for good television.
We often see that in a good story. The point is seldom the specifics of the story itself. Remember the gospel reading from last week. The Samaritan woman at the well? What a great story. It made us question the reason that she was at the well in the afternoon. We wondered how she was able to go through 5 separate husbands. And why she was not married to the man that she was presently living with. Much like that television show, it made for great drama but none of these plot twists was the point.
The point was that she was “thirsty”. And not in the physical way, that is not to say that she was not parched. It was a hot day, under the noon sun, and the weather in that region is very arid, but that is not the thirst suggested in the reading.
She was thirsty for affection, for attention, for companionship, and most importantly she was thirsty for an answer to her questions. So, here our Lord stepped in and offered everlasting water, life giving water.
Today’s Gospel story is similar. The principal protagonist was “a man blind from birth”. But that was not the point. Jesus “spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes” but that was not the point. The Pharisees were upset that the miracle was performed on the sabbath, but that was not the point. Even the disciples were off base when they asked Jesus if the man’s blindness was the results of the man’s sins or those of his parents, that was not the point.
The ninth line, fifth sentence in today’s Gospel says, “while I am in the world, I am the light of the world”.
That was the point.
Remember back to that MythBusters’s show? The point was that there was light both above and below deck and that light, both too much and too little, could blind you. What mattered was how you used your sight.
The man in the gospel was blind from birth, but with a simple act of kindness Jesus was able to give him the gift of sight. The Pharisees had been able to see all of their life, but they were refusing to see.
Remember the last line of the gospel, “if you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, “we see” so your sin remains.”
We see! Our Lord is before us, around us, within us. We have no reason for blindness. In the second reading Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Through out the bible we hear this reference to our being children of the light. Isaiah said, and Matthew repeated, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
After all of the drama in today’s Gospel, the man’s neighbors getting into the act, his parents being dragged down to provide proof and finally the Pharisees throwing the man out of the temple for telling the “wrong truth”, Jesus finds him and asks him a simple question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
At this point the man’s blindness was lifted. “Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgement, so that those who do not see might see”.
Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
March 19, 2023
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