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email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

 TALK ON THE READINGS FOR

SUNDAY OF THE BLIND MAN

 21st MAY 2009

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While St. Paul was in Troas (northwest Asia Minor), he saw in a vision a man beseeching him to come over to Macedonia and help them. Paul immediately set sail for Macedonia and went to Philippi which was the main city of the area. Up until then Paul’s missionary work was concentrated in the Middle East and Asia Minor and this is the first time that Paul steps on European soil. We can say that it was the inauguration of the Continent’s Christian era with Philippi being the first European city to receive the teaching of Christ. This Sunday’s Apostle reading tells us of some of the wonderful events that took place during Paul’s stay with the Philippians which mark the beginnings of the Church on European ground. Both the Apostle and Gospel readings for this Sunday are fairly long so as we have a lot to cover, let’s go straight to the reading of the Apostle reading which is from the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 16, verses 16-34.

“In those days, as we went to prayer with the Apostles, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”


16) “In those days, as we went to prayer with the Apostles, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:”
T
he visit to Philippi was part of Paul’s second missionary journey and the event mentioned probably happened around 52AD and some time after Paul had established a Christian community there. One day as the Apostles went to prayer at their usual time they were met by a young servant girl who was possessed with a spirit of divination. In the Greek the spirit of divination is called “πνεῦμα πύθωνος” in other words “spirit of a python. So what has a python in common with foretelling the future? Well it seems that either Luke was knowledgeable in the stories of Ancient Greek mythology or he picked up on what the local Greeks had come to call the young girl’s spirit. According to Greek mythology, Python was a serpent which protected the Delphi oracle and stood guard while the Sibyl (diviner) gave out her prophecies as she inhaled the trance inducing vapours from an open chasm. Apollo killed Python with his bow and arrows and took charge of the oracle. After killing Python and taking possession of the oracle, the god of light became known as "Pythian Apollo". He bestowed divine powers on one of the priestesses, and she became known as the "Pythia". It was she who inhaled the hallucinating vapours from the crack in the temple floor, while she sat on a tripod chewing laurel leaves. After she mumbled her answer, a male priest would translate it for the supplicant. Delphi became the most important oracle centre of Apollo.
The spirit which possessed the servant girl was in fact demonic and with her various and evasive answers she would satisfy the naïve curiosity of many who wanted to know what would happen to them in the future. As it is today so also then, people had to pay a high price for their curiosity. The servant girl of Philippi became an object of exploitation from her owners.
17) “The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (In some texts it has Paul and Silas).
Urged on by the spirit that possessed her, the girl followed the apostles and shouted after them proclaiming that they were servants of the most high God. Her testimony reminds us of similar testimonies made by others possessed by demons concerning the person of Christ mentioned in the Gospels of Sts. Mark and Luke. The Lord as also here with St. Paul, always rejected their testimony and forbade them to confess and reveal who he was. The reason is given to us by St. John Chrysostom. He says: “Why did the demon say these things and why did Paul object? Because the demon did it out of wickedness while Paul out of wisdom and discretion: he didn’t want the demon to appear as reliable. Because if Paul had accepted his testimony then the demon would be able to deceive many of the faithful having as an argument that even Paul accepts as the truth whatever I say. Naïveté and superstitions and dabbling in the black arts is something we see in every age and even in our times. Many people reject their faith and turn to astrology, fortune telling, magic and so many other things. They abandon the true God and deliver their souls to Satan. They don’t want to trust their lives to God’s love and providence and put their trust in the first thing which with demonic cunningness and dexterity takes advantage of human naïveté and gullibility. It confirms the prophetic words by St. Paul “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils…” (1 Tim. 4:1)
18) “And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
T
he possessed girl pursued for many days to meet the Apostles and confess their special quality and mission. Paul, realizing that the wretched girl was a victim of demonic possession, was tiresome and annoyed by seeing the truth being proclaimed profanely from lips made to move by the evil spirit with the intention of taking advantage of the people’s gullibility and thereby impairing the work of the Gospel. So calling upon the name of Jesus Christ, he turns to the girl and commands the unclean spirit to depart from her. Faced with the overwhelming power of the Lord’s name, the spirit unable to oppose, leaves and sets free the wretched girl that very same hour.
19) “And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,”
T
he casting out of the divining spirit from the girl resulted in her not being able to practice her soothsaying art and as a consequence her owners losing the means of their moneymaking. Seeing that they had lost all hope of their earnings and that the Apostles were to blame, the men arrested Paul and Silas and dragged them to the market place before the rulers. In ancient times the market place was the main town square which was not only the place for moving merchandise but also the place where people gathered to hear public and political debates and also where court hearings were conducted. We know that with Paul were the apostles Silas, Timothy and Luke, but we see that only Paul and Silas were arrested. This is possibly because Luke and Timothy were not actually present when Paul cast out the demon or because they were Greeks and were given some respect.
20-21) “And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.”
T
he English text says that the Apostles were brought before the magistrates. In fact these men were more than just magistrates. In Greek the text reads “καὶ προσαγαγόντες αὐτοὺς τοῖς στρατηγοῖς” in other words they were brought before the Generals (in Latin Praetors). In Roman times these generals were high ranking officials who had both the civil and military authority so in this sense they were also magistrates.
The charges made against them by the servant girl’s owners were that Paul and Silas were troublemaking Jews who caused a disorder in the city by preaching and teaching customs which were unacceptable to the Romans. Of course it is clear that the main reason for accusing the Apostles was not the public interests but the personal interests of the accusers which had been injured. In any case, with the accusation of causing a disturbance, it allows us to come to a conclusion that Paul’s preaching to the Philippians had already found a significant response from the occupants of the city.
The accusation that the Apostles were Jews shows how much the Jews were hated that the Roman Emperor Claudius had them all expelled from Rome. (Acts 18.2) For the Romans the religions of other nations were tolerable and the gods of the lands they had conquered were protected, but it was forbidden to teach these strange deities among the Romans and especially to cause a public disturbance with the intention to proselytise. Neither was it permissible to the Romans to abandon their own religion and embrace other religions. This view is supported by the other accusation that these customs were unacceptable to Roman society. These customs concerned the Jewish way of life with different religious practices and especially circumcision which to the Romans was laughable. It is worth noting that no discernment is made between the Jew and the Christian. The Apostles were persecuted because they were Jews while at the same time we know how hostile the Jews also were towards them. Also note that the Philippians call themselves Romans. A Roman was not a citizen of Rome, but of the Roman Empire. Even today Greeks call themselves Romans. Greek Cypriots call the Turkish Cypriots as Turkish Cypriots but they don’t call us Greek Cypriots but Rum Cypriots meaning Romans. We also use the Turkish and Arabic word Rum to distinguish ourselves from other heretic Churches that also call themselves Orthodox like the Coptic Orthodox. Thus we say we are Rum Orthodox which refers to the Greek Orthodox in communion with Constantinople which was also called “The New Rome”.
22) “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.”
H
aving heard the public accusations against the Apostles, the Philippians who had gathered at the market place turned against them. This was a declaration of the hatred and aversion the Romans felt for the Jews. The treatment of the Apostles by the magistrates was particularly harsh with the intent to disgrace. They tore off their clothes and ordered that they should be beaten with rods. The punishment of being beaten with rods, and especially in public, was considered dishonourable and was never given to Roman citizens. Paul, for reasons we don’t understand, could have declared himself a Roman citizen which he was and escape the dishonourable treatment he received at the hands of the Philippians. When later writing to the Thessalonians, Paul hints at the things he suffered by the Philippians saying “But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi.” (1 Thess. 2:2)
23-24) “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”
W
ithout trying to show that he is an eyewitness to Paul’s and Silas’ suffering, Luke gives us details of their harsh treatment. They were beaten many times, they were imprisoned and the jailor was given strict instructions to personally guard them. From verse 35 and 38 of this chapter which are not in our reading, we can say that the magistrates punishment was not because they believed the Apostles were guilty but rather to satisfy and calm the multitude.
Obeying the Magistrates’ orders, the jailor who in this case seems to have been in charge of the prison, places the Apostles in the inner prison, in other words the part of the prison which was reserved for the isolation of the worst criminals and from which escape was impossible. And for further security, had their feet locked in the wooden stocks. St. John Chrysostom observes that “the more secure their imprisonment becomes the more the splendour of the miracle.”
25) “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
N
o test or trial can break the heroic stance or take from the Apostles their living hope in the Lord. In spite of all their suffering, they have the strength and courage in the middle of the night and in the darkest prison to pray and sing hymns to God. The dark prison is transformed into a bright temple and the time of their confinement and pain becomes time for hope and joy. The other prisoners astonished, hear the heavenly hymns by the Christian apostles which echo throughout the prison. St. John Chrysostom stands full of praise before the example of these two apostles and says: they were beaten with many stripes, they were dishonoured, they had their feet locked in stocks in the most isolated place of the prison, but in their condition they do allow themselves to sleep but remain awake. They were not overwhelmed with the need to sleep, they were not buckled by the pain, they were not lead by fear to despondency. On the contrary, all these things made them all the more stronger and filled them with joy. The example of the Apostles verifies the great truth that for Christians there is no barrier capable of stopping their communion with their God and Father. Prayer as an expression of this communion, when it gives voice to the love of the soul and is offered from the depths of the heart, it has the power to overcome every external difficulty.
The heroic stand by Paul and Silas, a stand which reveals the mysterious relationship between temptation and joy in the Christian life, comprises the key which allows us to understand the meaning of the shocking statement made by Paul: “I rejoice in my sufferings”. (Col. 1:24)
26) “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.”
T
he midnight prayer of the Apostles had an unexpected and alarming continuance. Quite out of the blue, a strong earthquake shakes the prison building from its foundation. All the doors were immediately opened and all the chains and stocks from every prisoner were loosed. In a certain way, the earthquake comes as an answer from God to Paul’s and Silas’ prayers; as an intervention by God who makes his presence perceptible and expressing his anger for all that has been done against his servants of the Gospel.
It is clear from the verses that follow that the earthquake did not happen by coincidence. First of all it was a real earthquake which shook not only the ground and the building but in a way unexplainable, opened the chains of all the prisoners. Also, in spite of the strength of the earthquake none of the keepers or the prisoners were harmed in any way. That the earthquake was an extraordinary and miraculous event is verified also by the jailer who as we shall see in verse 29 attributed the earthquake to the presence of the apostles and so fell prostrate at their feet.
27) “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.”
T
he great earthquake awoke the prison guard and the first thing he notices is that the prison doors were open and he is desperately concerned. The thought passes his mind that the prisoners had escaped and especially Paul and Silas whom he had been charged by the magistrates to take special precautions for their confinement. The thought terrifies him because he knew only too well that in such a case he would be severely punished. He prefers to kill himself judging that suicide would be an honourable death compared with the humiliation of a trial and the sentence of death by execution. So having decided to put an end to his life he draws out his sword. It is clear that the jailer acts out of extreme fear without first verifying the thoughts that passed through his mind. He had just been shock woken from sleep and wasn’t thinking with a clear head. Also at that hour it was completely dark which didn’t allow the prisoners to make a fast escape even if they wanted to. Everything just happened so fast that even the other prisoners must have been in a state of shock.
28) “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.”
P
aul realizes what the jailer is about to do. Probably because his desperation was accompanied with cries or even because the door was open and Paul, who had been awake and his eyes had acclimatized to the darkness, could see the jailer from where he was. So seeing the knife in the jailers hand ready to commit suicide, Paul shouts in a load voice to stop him from killing himself, reassuring him that no one had escaped and that they were all still there. If life is the most precious gift from God then we are not allowed to willingly end it by committing suicide. How did Paul know that all the prisoners were still there? Either he had a clear view of the other cells or because he was enlightened from above. Let us not forget that we find ourselves facing a miraculous event which can only be recognized as the work of divine providence.
29) “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,”
P
aul’s words stop the jailer from carrying out what he was about to do, but he is not completely convinced. So he asks for light probably from one of his servant who helped him at the jail and jumps into the cell to verify the situation with his own eyes. Sure enough the apostles and all the other prisoners were all there. This suddenly fills him with terror because he understood that the miracle happened for the sake of the two apostles. He was surprised by their courage because they could have escaped, but didn’t and because Paul stopped him from putting an end to his life.
Seeing this miracle, he remembers all the things for which they were accused – that they were preachers of an unknown and strange God. At that moment he is convinced that before him were two devout and loyal servants of a true God and is overwhelmed with awe and fear and falls at the feet of Paul and Silas. It is the great moment of grace and very shortly he will embrace the Christian faith.
30) “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
A
fter the moment of fear had passed, the jailer comes to and leads the Apostles out of the prison and using the title Sirs, which is an expression of the great respect he now had for the two apostles, he asks what he must do to be saved.
The jailer’s question shows how he is now under the effect of God’s grace. But it is also possible that he had heard certain things about the Apostles preaching. He could also have heard of the servant girl who for many days followed the apostles and confessed that they were “servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (Verse 17)
31-32) “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
T
o the jailer’s question, the apostles immediately reply that a precondition for salvation is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, the recognition that Jesus is the one true Lord and God. By believing in Christ the Jailer would not only be saved but also his whole household. The spirit of God which indwelled in the apostles made them capable of foreseeing that the jailer’s whole family would believe in Christ. For the jailer to believe he had to be instructed in the new faith to know the word of the Lord, to know of his person and his work. The apostles therefore do not delay; they immediately set about teaching the jailer and all his household who had gathered around them.
33) “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
A
fter hearing the Gospel of the Lord, the jailer took the apostles and washed their bodies which were covered in blood from the wounds that had opened during their beating. This act shows the love and the honour which the jailer now felt towards his teachers in the faith. St. John Chrysostom says: and they were all washed, the apostles from their wounds and the jailer from his sins. Such a miraculous event can only have a wonderful ending. There was no doubt in the apostle’s minds that behind everything that had happened that night was the hand of God. This explains the immediate baptism of the jailer and the members of his household. What urged the apostles to immediately carry out the baptisms was not the need to rush, but an inner voice telling them what to do. When God commands, man must willingly obey without questioning the Lord’s will with our poor logic.
34) “And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God.”
W
hen joy indwells in the man’s soul, it urges him to express it outwardly in ways that can be seen and touched. The joy of discovering the living God and the acquiring of faith cannot be an occasion only for the soul but also for the body. Man is both body and soul and salvation is for the complete man, thus he lives and rejoices the fact of his salvation. This is what we see in the case of the jailer. After his baptism he brings Paul and Silas to his house where he sets out a dinner for his guest. The faith in Christ he has just discovered is a cause for great joy and celebration which he shares with his family and the Apostles of God, the guests of honour around the table of joy and thanksgiving.
That then is the explanation of the Apostle reading for this Sunday. This Sunday is the sixth and last Sunday of Pascha as the 40days of Pascha come to an end on Wednesday and Thursday we celebrate the event of our Lord’s Ascension into heaven. This sixth Sunday is called the Sunday of the Blind Man because the Gospel reading is the account of Jesus’ miracle of the man who was born blind. The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to St. John, chapter 9, verses 1-38.
“At that time, as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
T
he story begins just after Christ had left the temple and passing by he meets a man who was born blind. Blindness is one of the greatest human tragedies. Even the most faithful of men will at some time break down and say: why has this tragedy happened to me? Why can I not see the sun shining or the moon glowing? Why can I not discern when it is day and when it is night? Why can I not see an image of him who fashioned me in his image?
Bodily blindness is indeed a great tragedy, but there are two kinds of blindness’ just as there are also two kinds of sights. There is blindness of the soul which is a far greater tragedy than blindness of the body. The story of the blind man reveals to us these two kinds of blindness’ and also how the eyes of the soul can see even though the eyes of the body are blind.
The blind man is deprived of sight because he has no eyes, but at the same time his soul is blind because he doesn’t know Christ and as yet has not the light of his grace. But he had humility. The pain of being blind contributed to making him humble. If arrogance brings darkness, humility brings light. The blind man was free of the envy and arrogance of the Pharisees. His soul was untarnished and he had good intentions; in other words his soul was in a condition to accept the enlightening grace of God.
Christ meets him without him having asked for help. From what he later said to the Pharisees we can understand that he never ever had the slightest hope of ever receiving his sight. “Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.” Christ knows the inner man, he knows that the blind man has the requirements to receive the miracle, but at the same time gives him the opportunity to show his virtues. He begins the miracle, but asks for the blind man’s participation to bring about the desires results. He spits on the ground and makes a paste with the spittle and anoints the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and says to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam; and having done so he received his sight. The whole act seems so simple yet in it is hidden divine power, mystery and wonder. It reminds us of the account in Genesis where God with earth from the ground created man. It shows us that both then and now the creator was the same. Then he created him and now he has come to recreate him and make him divine. With the clay he completes and moulds that which was missing from the eyes of the blind man, by touching them with his creating and miraculous fingers.
What happened to the blind man was truly a divine act which surpasses the human logic. If mud is put into the eyes of someone that can see it can cause him blindness. Mud can never be used as a cure for blindness, but in the hands of God it becomes material for the miracle of creating sight.
The touch of Christ’s fingers, the spit and whatever else comes from his divine body are a source of miracles. That is why there is a need for faith which surpasses the human element and gives itself entirely to Christ. This is what the blind man did. Because he is humble, he resigns from his own logical reasoning and gives himself over to Christ and does whatever he commands him to do. He believes which a pure and untainted soul that the divine mind is far superior to human logic. Whatever Christ said or did to him, no matter how strange and illogical they may have appeared to his own logic, he believed they were wise and perfectly true. He may have had the eyes of his body closed, but the eyes of his soul were opened to Christ. When God acts, the faithful person accepts and does not ask why and how are these things done. He submits and obeys. This kind of faith, draws divine grace and opens the eyes of the body and also the eyes of the soul. That is why we see that the blind man willingly accepts to be anointed with the clay on his eyes thus showing his faith with obedience to Christ. He goes to the pool of Siloam, he washes and he sees. He understands that if the clay and the water of Siloam had been used by someone else, they would not have cured him. They had no miraculous powers by themselves. Here some other power, some other healing grace acted through the clay and water and that was Christ’s spit and the touch of his fingers.
Christ granted him the light of his bodily eyes, but also the light of his spiritual eyes. His faith, the pureness of his soul, his attitude towards the arrogant Pharisees reveal that his inner self had given itself over to Christ. This dedication is the result of the sight of the inner eyes which is a far greater event than the sight of his bodily eyes. The eyes of the spirit become enlightened so that man can live a life according to God. Everywhere the Blind man proclaims the miracle and him who made it possible: he says again and again that “whereas I was blind, now I see.” The enlightening of his soul is the visitation of the grace of the Holy Spirit which is his calling to live according to God and to have a continual relationship and communion with God.
The devil’s endeavour is to stop the Blind man’s and every man’s journey towards Christ. With the person of the Blind man the devil through the Pharisees makes war against Christ because he worked on the Sabbath day when he spat and made clay from the spittle. They would have preferred that the blind man was not cured rather than Christ making clay from the spittle on the Sabbath. How blind is envy and every other sin! For the Pharisees, not only is Christ not God but he is also a transgressor of the Law. If bodily blindness is a serious handicap because it is the absence of the sense of light, how much more serious is the blindness of the soul of which the Pharisees suffered. Arrogant and self-asserting, they had the feeling of being self sufficient and didn’t have the need of the merciful Lord. That is why they delivered him to the cross and death. They never once believed in his miracles like the one made on the blind man. They tried to discredit it by saying that it was impossible for a transgressor of the Law to be from God and perform miracles. Their heart, their mind was continually in the darkness of sin and satanic pride and therefore refused every opportunity for a relationship with Christ and remained without divine grace. As Christ said “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.” (John 3:20) They have no need of Christ: the material world is enough for them.
The former blind man is slandered and dishonoured by the Pharisees as they also dishonoured Christ. Not only do they not accept Christ as God but neither do they accept a righteous person. They consider him a sinful man. They talk condescendingly of Christ and also of the Blind man when they tell him: “You are his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.” The blind man becomes a disciple of Christ. When he asks the Pharisees “will you also be his disciples?” he means that he is. That is why he conducts himself as a true disciple. He receives a taste of Christ’s cross, because he accepts with patience the slander, the contempt and the persecution when they threw him out of the temple. With boldness he rejected all the accusations made against Christ without fearing the leaders of the people. In spite of the war waged against him, not only is his faith not undermined, but he remained loyal in his love for his benefactor. He remains in God and God in him. Christ said that whosoever will confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven.
The blind man is included among those who Christ will confess because he confessed him before the rulers who hated Christ and could have done him harm. The boldness with which he confessed Christ reveals the great extent of his souls purification and the enlightenment it received by the Holy Spirit. That is why he was not afraid of the rulers of Israel as were his parents who didn’t confess Christ because they were afraid of being put out of the Synagogue. The blind man is prepared to pay the greatest cost for his benefactor that is he is prepared to take up his cross and follow him and become a partaker of his passions. When Christ will come in his glory, he will crown the blind man and all his confessors and will find them worthy to be placed on his right side with the righteous. The blind man will see God and the Pharisees will be blind because they remained glued to the letter of the Law and couldn’t release themselves from their arrogance to see that Christ was the giver of the law.
Christ meets the disciple and confessor to give him strength and support him in the war that the Pharisees waged against him. Him whom the Pharisees slandered and threw out of the temple is accepted with open arms by the Lord of the angels; the Son of God. He honours him by speaking with him. He says to him: “do you believe in the Son of God?” not on man but in God incarnate. And the blind man answers: Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus reveals himself to him and says: “You have seen him, and it is he that now talks with you, he is standing in front of you and in him dwells God, the Word of the Father.
And he saw him not only with his bodily eyes but also with the eyes of his soul. And the blind man said: “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” He worshipped him because he believed that he was God. Now we can understand Christ’s words at the beginning of this Gospel reading when he said: “that he was born blind so that the works of God should be made manifest in him”.