Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lectio notes: John 9: 18-41

Annibale Carraci & Francesco Albani- Healing the Man Born Blind- MNAC

Today's section of St John's Gospel continues the story of Jesus healing a blind man.  A great miracle has occurred - but the man's parents are so scared to the Jewish authorities that they deflect inquiries about it to the man himself.  The man ends up being expelled from the synagogue for his witness to Jesus, but is instructed in the faith by Jesus.  The chapter ends highlighting a reversal of fortunes: the blind see; but the sighted have become blind to the truth.


The New Advent page with the Greek, Latin and Knox translation can be found here.The New Advent page with the Greek, Latin and Knox translation can be found here.  you can listen to the Latin here (from 2.00).

The Latin:

18 Non crediderunt ergo Judæi de illo, quia cæcus fuisset et vidisset, donec vocaverunt parentes ejus, qui viderat: 19 et interrogaverunt eos, dicentes: Hic est filius vester, quem vos dicitis quia cæcus natus est? quomodo ergo nunc videt? 20 Responderunt eis parentes ejus, et dixerunt: Scimus quia hic est filius noster, et quia cæcus natus est: 21 quomodo autem nunc videat, nescimus: aut quis ejus aperuit oculos, nos nescimus; ipsum interrogate: ætatem habet, ipse de se loquatur. 22 Hæc dixerunt parentes ejus, quoniam timebant Judæos: jam enim conspiraverunt Judæi, ut si quis eum confiteretur esse Christum, extra synagogam fieret. 23 Propterea parentes ejus dixerunt: Quia ætatem habet, ipsum interrogate.24 Vocaverunt ergo rursum hominem qui fuerat cæcus, et dixerunt ei: Da gloriam Deo: nos scimus quia hic homo peccator est. 25 Dixit ergo eis ille: Si peccator est, nescio; unum scio, quia cæcus cum essem, modo video. 26 Dixerunt ergo illi: Quid fecit tibi? quomodo aperuit tibi oculos? 27 Respondit eis: Dixi vobis jam, et audistis: quod iterum vultis audire? numquid et vos vultis discipuli ejus fieri? 28 Maledixerunt ergo ei, et dixerunt: Tu discipulus illius sis: nos autem Moysi discipuli sumus. 29 Nos scimus quia Moysi locutus est Deus; hunc autem nescimus unde sit. 30 Respondit ille homo, et dixit eis: In hoc enim mirabile est quia vos nescitis unde sit, et aperuit meos oculos: 31 scimus autem quia peccatores Deus non audit: sed si quis Dei cultor est, et voluntatem ejus facit, hunc exaudit. 32 A sæculo non est auditum quia quis aperuit oculos cæci nati. 33 Nisi esset hic a Deo, non poterat facere quidquam. 34 Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: In peccatis natus es totus, et tu doces nos? Et ejecerunt eum foras.35 Audivit Jesus quia ejecerunt eum foras: et cum invenisset eum, dixit ei: Tu credis in Filium Dei? 36 Respondit ille, et dixit: Quis est, Domine, ut credam in eum? 37 Et dixit ei Jesus: Et vidisti eum, et qui loquitur tecum, ipse est. 38 At ille ait: Credo, Domine. Et procidens adoravit eum. 39 Et dixit Jesus: In judicium ego in hunc mundum veni: ut qui non vident videant, et qui vident cæci fiant. 40 Et audierunt quidam ex pharisæis qui cum ipso erant, et dixerunt ei: Numquid et nos cæci sumus? 41 Dixit eis Jesus: Si cæci essetis, non haberetis peccatum. Nunc vero dicitis, Quia videmus: peccatum vestrum manet.

The English:

The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight, [19] And asked them, saying: Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see? [20] His parents answered them, and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: [21] But how he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself: he is of age, let him speak for himself. [22] These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [23] Therefore did his parents say: He is of age, ask himself. [24] They therefore called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner. [25] He said therefore to them: If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. [26] They said then to him: What did he to thee? How did he open thy eyes? [27] He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard: why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples? [28] They reviled him therefore, and said: Be thou his disciple; but we are the disciples of Moses. [29] We know that God spoke to Moses: but as to this man, we know not from whence he is. [30] The man answered, and said to them: Why, herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes. [31] Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth. [32] From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. [33] Unless this man were of God, he could not do any thing. [34] They answered, and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. [35] Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him: Dost thou believe in the Son of God? [36] He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? [37] And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee. [38] And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him. [39] And Jesus said: For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not, may see; and they who see, may become blind. [40] And some of the Pharisees, who were with him, heard: and they said unto him: Are we also blind? [41] Jesus said to them: If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say: We see. Your sin remaineth.


The authorities attempt to discredit the miracle, and intimidate those who would give witness to it.  How many of us are faint hearted like the parents when called to give witness to Christ?

CHRYS. The Pharisees being unable, by intimidation, to deter the blind man from publicly proclaiming his Benefactor, try to nullify the miracle through the parents. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they had called the parents of him that had received his sight...

But it is the nature of truth, to be strengthened by the very snares that are laid against it. A lie is its own antagonist, and by its attempts to injure the truth, sets it off to greater advantage: as is the case now. For the argument which might otherwise have been urged, that the neighbors knew nothing for certain, but spoke from a mere resemblance, is cut off by introduction of the parents, who could of course testify to their own son.

Having brought these before the assembly, they interrogate them with great sharpness, saying, Is this your son, (they say not, who was born blind, but) who you say was born blind? Say. Why what father is there, that would say such things of a son, if they were not true? Why not say at once, Whom you made blind? They try two ways of making them deny the miracle: by saying, Who you say was born blind, and by adding, How then does he now see?

THEOPHYL. Either, say they, it is not true that he now sees, or it is untrue that he was blind before: but it is evident that he now sees; therefore it is not true that he was born blind.

CHRYS. What sort of gratitude is this in the parents; concealing what they knew, from fear of the Jews? as we are next told; These words spoke his parents, because they feared the Jews. And then the Evangelist mentions again what the intentions and dispositions of the Jews were: For the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

AUG. It was no disadvantage to be put out of the synagogue: whom they cast out, Christ took in.

Therefore said, his parents, He is of age, ask him.

ALCUIN. The Evangelist shows that it was not from ignorance, but fear, that they gave this answer.

THEOPHYL. For they were fainthearted; not like their son, that intrepid witness to the truth, the eyes of whose understanding had been enlightened by God.

The newly sighted man though, now becomes bolder in his testimony:

CHRYS. Observe then, when he said above, Whether He be a sinner, I know not, it was not that he spoke in doubt; for here he not only acquits him of all sin, but holds him up as one well pleasing to God: But if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His will, him He hears. It is not enough to know God, we must do His will.

Then he extols His creed: Since the world began, was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind: as if to say, If you confess that God hears not sinners; and this Man has worked a miracle; such an one, as no other man has; it is manifest that the virtue whereby He has wrought it, is more than human:

If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing.

AUG. Freely, steadfastly, truly. For how could what our Lord did, be done by any other than God, or by disciples even, except when their Lord dwelt in them?

CHRYS. So then because speaking the truth he was in nothing confounded, when they should most have admired, they condemned him: You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?

AUG. What means altogether? That he was quite blind. Yet He who opened his eyes, also saves him altogether.

Yet the Pharisees reaction is not acknowledgment of the truth, but rejection of it - spiritual blindness:

CHRYS. Or, altogether, that is to say, from your birth you are in sins. They reproach his blindness, and pronounce his sins to be the cause of it; most unreasonably. So long as they expected him to deny the miracle, they were willing to believe him, but now they cast him out.

AUG. It was they themselves who had made him teacher; themselves, who had asked him so many questions; and now they ungratefully cast him out for teaching.

CHRYS. Those who suffer for the truth's sake, and confession of Christ, come to greatest honor; as we see in the instance of the blind man. For the Jews cast him out of the temple, and the Lord of the temple found him; and received him as the judge clothes the wrestler after his labors, and crowns him: Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, Do you believe in the Son of God? The Evangelist makes it plain that Jesus came in order to say this to him. He asks him, however, not in ignorance, but wishing to reveal Himself to him, and to show that He appreciated his faith; as if He said, The people have cast reproaches on Me, but I care not for them; one thing only I care for, that you may believe. Better is he that does the will of God, than ten thousand of the wicked.

Even so, an acknowledgment that Jesus has effected a miracle is to thin a layer of faith for salvation, the man requires more instruction:

HILARY. If any mere confession whatsoever of Christ were the perfection of faith, it would have been said, Do you believe in Christ? But inasmuch as all heretics would have had this name in their mouths, confessing Christ, and yet denying the Son, that which is two of Christ alone, is required of our faith, viz. that we should believe in the Son of God. But what avails it to believe on the Son of God as being a creature, when we are required to have faith in Christ, not as a creature of God, but as the Son of God.

CHRYS. But the blind man did not yet know Christ, for before he went to Christ he was blind, and after his cure, he was taken hold of by the Jews: He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? The speech this of a longing and inquiring mind. He knows not who He is for whom he had contended so much; a proof to you of his love of truth.

The Lord however says not to him, I am He who healed you; but uses a middle way of speaking, You have both seen Him.

THEOPHYL. This He says to remind him of his cure, which had given him the power to see. And observe, He that speaks is born of Mary, and the son is the Son of God, not two different Persons, according to the error of Nestorius: And it is He that talks with you.

AUG First, He washes the face of his heart. Then, his heart's face being washed, and his conscience cleansed, he acknowledges Him as not only the Son of man, which he believed before, but as the Son of God, Who had taken flesh upon Him: And he said, Lord, I believe. I believe, is a small thing. Would you see what he believes of Him? And falling down, he worshipped Him.

This instruction does have its effect on some of the authorities though, who start to question their certainties.  And Jesus reminds them that they cannot plead ignorance, for they have the gift of the prophets and the law:

AUG: And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, Are we blind also? What had moved them were the words, And that they which see might be made blind.

It follows, Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin; i.e. If you called yourselves blind, and ran to the physician. But now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains: for in that saying, We see, you seek not a physician, you shall remain in your blindness. This then which He has just before said, I came, that they that see not might see; i.e. they who confess they cannot see, and seek a physician, in order that they may see: and that they which see not may be made blind; i.e. they which think they can see, and seek not a physician, may remain in their blindness. This act of division He calls judgment, saying, For judgment have I come into this world: not that judgment by which He will judge the living and dead at the end of the world...

THEOPHYL. As if to say, Lo, he that saw not from his birth, now sees both in body and soul; whereas they who seem to see, have had their understanding darkened.

CHRYS. For there is a twofold vision, and a twofold blindness; viz. that of sense, and that of the understanding. But they were intent only on sensible things, and were ashamed only of sensible blindness: wherefore He shows them that it would be better for them to be blind, than seeing so: If you were blind, you should have no sin; your punishment would be easier; But now you say, We see.

THEOPHYL. Overlooking the miracle wrought on the blind man, you deserve no pardon; since even visible miracles make no impression on you.

CHRYS. What then they thought their great praise, He shows would turn to their punishment; and at the same time consoles him who had been afflicted with bodily blindness from his birth. For it is not without reason that the Evangelist says, And some of the Pharisees which were with him, heard these words; but that he may remind us that those were the very persons who had first withstood Christ, and then wished to stone Him. For there were some who only followed in appearance, and were easily changed to the contrary side.

THEOPHYL. Or, if you were blind, i.e. ignorant of the Scriptures, your offense would be by no means so heavy a one, as erring out of ignorance: but now, seeing you call yourselves wise and understanding in the law, your own selves condemn you.

The next set of lectio notes can be found here.

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