Healing of the man born blind - Page 6
Jesus only appears at the beginning and end of this episode and his care and compassion shine throughout. At the beginning of the episode, the disciples take a detached view of the blind man, focusing on him not as a person with real human needs but as a case for intellectual discussion. Jesus, however, becomes personally involved with the man and shows that he values him as an individual. As Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche (a community with and for people with disabilities) writes:
“Jesus, the Compassionate One, touches the man.
He heals not only through the word but through his touch.
Voice and touch are extremely important for blind people.
Touch is the first and foremost of our five senses.
It is the sense of love, for it implies presence, proximity and tenderness.
Tenderness, which is the opposite of hardness,
does not mean possession or seduction,
but the giving of life” (17)
Then at the end of the episode, we learn that Jesus has not forgotten the man. He hears that the man has been driven out of the Temple and he seeks him out. Then follows that wonderfully sensitive dialogue by which Jesus makes himself known to the man.
At a deeper level, we can learn much more about Jesus. The mention of the dust of the ground, water in the form of saliva, and man all point us back to Genesis and to the Creation (Genesis: 2:6-7). And we recall the beginning of St John’s Gospel, “All things were made by him…” (1:3). So here, with the healing of the blind man, we see the eternal Word of God, now incarnate, performing another act of creation – a re-creation. (18)
Then Jesus tells the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam and St John adds “which means Sent”. At a superficial level this refers to the fact that the spring water in the Pool has been ‘sent’ there from the source via Hezekiah’s tunnel. But at a deeper level, John is reminding us that Jesus is sent by God – he is the Sent One. And so John is saying that the spring water (living water) symbolises Jesus who was sent to bring healing and light. Many in the early Church saw this as a reference to Baptism. (19,20)