Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.
In this short concluding section to the healing of the man born blind, we have a perfect example of the running irony in the Gospel according to John as well as a succinct illustration of the dangers of religion based on mastery rather than gratitude.
The long back-and-forth chapter, at turns comical and sorrowful, paints a picture of how utterly adverse human “religion” is to God’s miraculous power to heal. The Pharisees, indignant with Jesus’ rising significance and his defiance of their neatly-packaged belief system, try to pin a violation of the Sabbath laws on him for “making mud” and healing a man born blind. What ensues would be laughable if the stakes were not so high and the corruption of faith so profound. Perhaps even more pitiable is the fact that Christians in the USA—on the so-called “right” and “left”—continue to behave in much the same fashion, prizing ideology over gratitude, love, and the authentic mystery of Truth.
More troubling still, we keep thinking that we have somehow “evolved” or “graduated” beyond this sort of thing. Like the Pharisees of old, we cannot get it through our heads that humility, not arrogant certainty, is what God wants from us. Only hearts open to renewal, healing, and transformation may show forth the light of the Resurrection. Without this, people only see the Institution, which by itself is not The Good News. In fact, chapter nine of John wants us to see just how much “bad news” such a mockery of faith really is.
In a political season like this, I am hearing more and more Christians become more and more certain that “we see,” and that others are blind. We would do well to remember this passage from John, read at the Daily Office today, when we are tempted to think and act this way. Christ has some tough words for this mindset…and they apply to us as much as they did the Pharisees.