Grace to you!
Expelling someone from the temple of Jerusalem or the synagogue was considered a terrible thing during the time of Jesus. For one, in the public eye, the person was treated as a sinner.
Recall that the Jewish practice of expelling people from the temple (temporarily—up to thirty days— or permanently, for life) grew post the Babylonian exile, around the 6th century BC. Among the rare victims of permanent expulsion were Christians. The Lord predicted it (see Jn16:2; Lk 6:22). The Gospel of John noted how a few people who had some affection for following Jesus could not do so publicly because of the fear of being expelled from the synagogue (see Jn 12:42).
It was not so with the man the Lord Jesus cured of his blindness in John chapter nine. He was expelled from the temple for his testimony about Jesus. He refused to dismiss the reality of a miracle performed by the Lord, a miracle for which he was a beneficiary.
The Pharisees present around the scene, who couldn't fault the reality of the miracle by Jesus, demanded the man attribute the miracle to God (Jn 9:14) and not to the son of a carpenter—Jesus. It is a subtle dismissal of the divinity of Jesus, spiritual blindness. The man's blindness before he received a miracle could, therefore, be seen as a metaphor to the blindness of unbelief of the doubters who opposed his testimony.
The man, having received his sight, chose never to act blind or to be blind to the miracles of God, which Jesus embodied. He insisted it was Jesus who performed the miracle. He saw. He witnessed firsthand the grace of God and wouldn't deny what he saw. He judged rightly and acted justly. If a miracle is by the finger of God, then I see in the man who cured me, God's finger too. The healed man wouldn't back down.
God be praised for his testimony. His example is suitable for believers of today. How often do we, due to fear of losing our friends, connections, donors, or our fame, etc., explain away the truth and miracles of God's grace in our lives? Why downplay the goodness of the Lord or his unique graces you've received because you don't want to look different?
Isn't this a form of a pretentious life? Or do we suppose pretense relates to a cover-up of only what is bad? How about a suppressing of the truth we know? How do we respond when people poke at the core of our faith, and we are tempted to be dismissive of what we hold precious simply because we want to comply with the popular view? It isn’t in your best interest to lose your identity because of what people say.
Blessed are those who hold on to what they've seen and witnessed and believe. It’s part of who they are.
The Lord was the first to greet the man with a glowing endorsement of salvation after he was expelled from the temple. People evicted the man from the house of God. Jesus welcomed him by the most gracious hands of divinity to the home of the Trinity of Love.
Thence, his witness of Jesus matured from simple knowledge about Jesus as a good man, a miracle worker, "maybe" a prophet, to "discipleship of Jesus" as Lord and Savior. I love Saint Augustine's commentary about this. "Now with the face of his heart washed and with his conscience cleansed, he acknowledges him to be not only Son of man but Son of God" (St Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 44, 15).
Bearing witness to what the Lord has done for us in our lives, and not minding the rejection of skeptics, intensifies the eye of faith. It makes us grow deeper in the love and knowledge of the Lord. It is salvation.
Faith, not tested, is wishy-washy. Faith drilled through the dark, eerie storms of skepticism, suffering, pains, and rejection is saving. Such faith is in the light. Indeed, the Holy Giver of the gift of faith wrapped it with the ribbon of the cross. Faith-gift is wrapped with the cross of radiant glory.
The above story, just like the story of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4), alongside many other New Testament stories, is clear evidence regarding an Old Testament aphorism. Namely, the way God sees things is not the way the human eye, devoid of the light of faith, sees them. God spoke to Samuel, "Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart" (I Sam 16:7; New American Bible).
Nothing less is from the Lord who is the light of the world (Jn 8:12), and sight to the blindness of unbelief (Jn 9:39); granting the favor of sight and light to believers (Eph 5:8-10).
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to see things the way you do. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[4th Sunday Lent A: 1 Sm 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.