On the Healing of the Man Who Was Blind from His Birth.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Healing of the Man Who Was Blind from His Birth.
Represent to yourself the pitiable condition of the man who was born blind, and who sat by the wayside and begged. Perpetual night, continual darkness, obscurity unrelieved by a ray of light, such is the melancholy lot of this unhappy man. He cannot rejoice in the radiance of the sun, or look with delight on the azure sky, the verdant earth. For him the whole world is a dark and dreary desert. When you have realized to some extent this sad condition, proceed to consider the mystic interpretation of the narrative before you.
1st. Consider the singular question the disciples asked our Lord: “Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” (St. John ix. 2.) Hence we see that the apostles attributed the deplorable condition of the blind man to his sin or his parents’ sin. Alas! were sin the cause of such misfortunes, would you not have abundant reason for astonishment that you are still in possession of sight and hearing, that you have the free use of your tongue, since you have so frequently put these senses to a sinful use? No, our Lord answers: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (v. 3.) What an inspiriting, what a consoling answer! Thus all the misery and misfortune, the distress and suffering which weigh upon man here below, are not the chastisement of sin exclusively, but oftentimes ordained for the greater honor and glory of God. Always think of this latter cause when you contemplate the trials of others, but in your own case think of both the one and the other. For the conviction: my sins have deserved this suffering, for their sake it has come upon me, is most salutary for your soul; and the remembrance that it was thus ordained that the works of God should be made manifest, contains in itself a rich fund of consolation. Is it not comforting to think: this is God’s doing, it is by the dispensation of His providence that this suffering, this sickness has come upon me; and is it not encouraging to know: by accepting this affliction patiently, submissively, cheerfully, I can make manifest the works of God, that is, show forth the power of faith, the might of His grace; show them forth to the glory of God and the edification of my neighbor. Think well upon this truth, it will afford no slight solace both for yourself and for others.
2d. Consider the manner in which our Lord healed the man who was blind from his birth. “He spat upon the ground and made clay of the spittle and spread the clay upon his eyes, and said to him: Go to the pool of Siloe and wash. He went therefore and washed and came back seeing.” (v. 6, 7.) This man who was born blind represents our poor humanity, the unhappy race of Adam’s children, who since their first parents fall are born blind, spiritually blind, “wholly born in sins” (v. 34), so that they can no longer discern what is right and just, and grope in the darkness of unbelief and moral corruption. How is their cure effected? By means of clay and spittle. By the clay, human nothingness is signified, for man was made out of the dust of the earth, and by the spittle, which comes from the mouth, divine wisdom is signified; the clay made with the spittle is Incarnate Wisdom, stooping to man’s abasement, awakening in the soul, according to St. Gregory’s interpretation, a consciousness of her own frailty, degradation and spiritual blindness. This consciousness makes it easier to go to the pool of Siloe, it urges the blind man to wash himself in the waters of penance. He goes thither blind, but with the clay and spittle spread upon his eyes; that is, he is conscious of his sinfulness, he is contrite for his sins, and he comes back seeing. Meditate, my soul, upon the mystic meaning of this miracle, and ask yourself how often have not you resembled that man blind from his birth both in his infirmity and in its cure, and how seldom have you resembled him in his gratitude for the wondrous cure wrought once on him, and in you a countless number of times.
3d. Consider how after the healing of the man who was born blind there was a commotion among the people, for as the Evangelist tells us: “The neighbors and they that had seen him before, that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said: This is he. But others said: No, but he is like him.” (v. 8, 9.) Here again, my soul, you will find plentiful matter for meditation. The people cannot, will not, believe that this man, walking alone, joyously, with full use of his sight, is the same whom they had so long seen sitting by the wayside, a blind, wretched mendicant. Thus it ought to be with you. If your fellow men, your Brethren and Sisters, formerly knew you as a beggar, poor in virtue, spiritually blind, a slave to pride, to envy, to the craving for enjoyment, let them now, after your conversion, ask in astonishment: Can this be he who but yesterday was so careless, so proud, so frivolous? How is it that he is now so zealous, so humble, so serious? Is it really the same individual? That, my soul, would prove your conversion to be real and thorough; and had you changed so completely, oh then all your former sins would not only be a continual source of grief to you, they would rather enhance your merit by the good influence which your conversion would have upon your neighbor. They would in a certain sense, tend to your credit, just as a rent in the garment of a rich man may render that garment more beautiful and valuable, because of the elegant gold embroidery which is laid upon it for the purpose of concealing the rent.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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