Fourth Sunday of Lent

This Sunday the reading is taken from St John’s Gospel again: the healing of the Blind. The healing of the two blind men in St Matthew’s Gospel might be a suitable replacement.

Matthew 9:27-31

9:27     As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting,

'Take pity on us, son of David.'

9:28     And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up to him

and he said to them, 'Do you believe I can do this?'

They said, 'Lord, we do.'

9:29     Then he touched their eyes saying,

'According to your faith, let it be done to you.'

9:30     And their sight returned.

Then Jesus sternly warned them,

'Take care that no one learns about this.'

9:31     But when they had gone away,

they talked about him all over the countryside.

Context & Information

This healing is part of a series of four miracle stories. First we hear how Jesus heals two daughters: the woman with a haemorrhage (9:20-22) and the deceased daughter of  an official (9:25). Then Matthew tells us about the healing of the two blind men. Finally a dumb demoniac is cured (9:27-30).

Jesus healed and cured sick people. That way of proceeding was quite different from what his religious mates of the time thought and did. They thought that illness and decease were punishments of God. These people were impure. Do not touch them: they will make you impure as they are. Jesus time mates pushed ill people into isolation.

How different was Jesus’ action. He took pity on them and cured them. These four stories make clear that something new had begun with Jesus. That is exactly what Jesus announced in the parable that preceded these four healing stories (9:16-17): ‘No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth onto an  old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people do new wine in old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, the new wine runs out and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine in new fresh skins and both are preserved.’ Jesus saw the new way of thinking which he brought as an ‘unshrunken cloth’ and as ‘new wine in a new fresh skin’.

In that sense the healing stories may have a metaphorical meaning as well. The healing of the two daughters (9:18-26) make clear that Jesus brings new life. To be touched by him means ‘resurrection’. The healing of the two blind men (9:27-31) may signify that we may have open eyes for the real content of Jesus’ mystery. The curing of the dumb demonic (9:32-34): that our voice may speak of that mystery in the right way (in an  ‘orthodox’ way).

Picture Meditation

The story starts in the top corner left. Two blind men walk behind Jesus; Jesus is to be recognized by his red clothes. He starts to look backwards; he hears the cries of the two men.

Do I believe that my prayers are heard?

Who are the two women in yellow? Are they perhaps the two women from the previous story: the daughter risen from the dead and the woman cured from haemorrhage? In the centre - emphasized by the yellow circle - we see how (an enormous!) Jesus heals the two men by laying down his hands upon their faces. According to the way of thinking of Jesus’ days this was forbidden. Ill people were impure; touching them made you as impure as they were. A revolutionary gesture of Jesus. Looking at his attitude it is a dynamic way of proceeding: driven by the Holy Spirit?

Is there a spot in my body were I should desire that Jesus would lay his hands upon? A painful spot in my character, in my person, in my history? That I could feel the tenderness, the care, the warmth of Jesus’ touching?

In this healing scene we see the two women in yellow again; the youngest one brings Jesus a cup of coffee or tea. Very attentive and careful. What should I like to offer to Jesus?

In the corner bottom left Jesus says good-bye to the two healed men. From the Gospel we know that he ‘sternly warned’ them to say nothing about what had happened. But in the corner bottom right we see how the two are telling about Jesus. It seems that they show to others how Jesus cured them by laying their hands upon their faces.

Was there ever a moment in my life where I felt the presence of Jesus (or the Father)? So impressive that I felt I had to tell it to others? What gifts did I receive from the Lord which I should like to give to others as well: to love the others as I am loved?

At the end I have a colloquy with one person (or more persons) in the picture;

and with Jesus...

- Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J