Negative energy is a strange phenomenon. It seems to easily bond people around an issue, while at the same time it blinds the psyche to alternative perspectives. Today’s gospel passage of the healing of the blind man is fraught with this type of negative energy.
There are the neighbors and acquaintances who cannot accept that this man is healed of his blindness, and so refuse to rejoice in that fact. They become a negative group, bonding around their refusal to believe the miracle and change in this man’s life. This force moves the issue to the next level – the Pharisees.
The Pharisees latch on to the fact that the man was healed on the Sabbath. Yet, this throws them into a certain dilemma. For some it is proof of the sinfulness of Jesus, but others cannot reconcile this sinfulness with doing such good deeds. The best thing to do is to reject the notion that this man was ever blind. However, when his parents testified that he had indeed been born blind, they pulled out their trump card – expulsion from the synagogue.
It is interesting to note that the neighbors and the Pharisees speak and act as groups. Each of these groups bond around a negative mindset and cannot be swayed. Both Jesus and the healed man speak and act as individuals.
Jesus is present at the beginning and end of the drama, and while the Pharisees are trying to gather evidence against Jesus, it is the one who is healed who becomes his defense. This man who so lately had been a poor blind beggar had received more than physical sight. He had received spiritual light from the Light of the world. This man who so lately was dependent on the charity of others, now could stand up and witness to the truth. He was not afraid to refute the arguments of the Pharisees.
He had nothing to lose. He had no social status to tightly guard. He had not finances, apart from what was in his begging bowl. The teachings of the Pharisees and their knowledge of their laws really had never included him. Now to their amazement and disgust, this beggar would dare teach them! So, they played their trump card and expelled him from the synagogue. It mattered not to him, for he had found a teaching greater than any Pharisee could provide him in the synagogue.
When Jesus steps aside in this story, he leaves the preaching of God’s ways to a beggar. Of course this was unacceptable to the religious circles and upper echelons of religious power. He did not need their type of learning, for his life had been touched and changed by Jesus, without his even asking.
Who is being taken out of their blindness and entrusted with the proclamation of the message of Jesus? It might stun us to see, as it did those Pharisees.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP