WORD MADE FLESH

Fourth Sunday in Lent - April 3, 2011
1 Samuel 16. 1, 6-7, 10-13 | Psalm 23 | Ephesians 5.8-14 | John 9.1-41s

Ralph Himsl

March 28, 2011

If we confine our acquaintance with the Gospels to the readings set out for the Masses, we run a risk of missing an interesting something, namely the difference in the writing style of the evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

By way of example: Reading the complete Gospel of Luke and that of John makes the point. Luke's Gospels, often so spare in their details can occasionally read like a police report, like a response to Sgt. Joe Friday's challenge to witnesses in Dragnet, that TV series of long ago. "All we want are the facts," he would growl.

SIMPLY PUT

Luke would have understood that admonition. His accounts have the force of simplicity.

John, on the other hand can often express his ideas poetically: recall the soaring words which open his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

They enter the mind easily and stay securely in memory.

John's poetic eye sees the details of human reaction. For example, he enriches his accounts of the acts of Jesus in today's Gospel by noting how his disciples and others respond to what they see, in the giving of sight to the blind man.

John tells of a dispute among the witnesses about the identity of this man. Some thought they recognized him as a beggar nearby; others protested, but conceded that the one Jesus cured did look like the beggar. All the while, they ignored his vigorous protests. As John's Gospel puts it, "I am the man."

JESUS' PERSONA

Our imagination needs little help to create the scene but for all its human interest, we recall that John teaches us about the nature and personality of Jesus.

The man once blind now sees clearly, but soon learns that sighted people do not always see that way. Arguments swirl in the crowd.

The Pharisees challenge him: "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened."

The man's exasperation gets the better of him; he makes one more attempt - we detect the urgency in his declaration, "He is a prophet."

In defence of the Pharisees, they did not witness the cure and, doubtful, they sent the man away.

PERSONAL EPIPHANY

Jesus seeks him and finding him asks, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He replies, "'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped him." A fully realized personal epiphany.

At this point, I admit I had never before appreciated this doughty, unnamed person, once blind but now physically sighted and spiritually aware. He holds up in the face of the scorn and rejection of those blinkered skeptics about him.

His steadfast character quite wins us over and through his eyes we see the everlasting nature of a Jesus ready to reveal himself.

May we seek him ever.

I set this reading aside moved by the wonder of the Word.