The second exchange with the Pharisees reveals the challenges of faith for the blind man. Now “seeing”, he is able to express and proclaim his faith, albeit a primitive step of faith, for he still reflects a “do ut des” religion that smacks of Jansenism, a heresy pandemic among the religious right today, often appearing as some form of prosperity religion. If someone is “devout” and “does the will of God” then God listens to that person. Authentic worship on the other hand, worships out of pure love, expecting nothing in return.

Love in America is often seen as an exchange of something — money, allegiance, support, sex or any number of things. Our relationship with God is not based on any exchange, but our complete worship.

The equation of blindness and sin is very clear in the final statement of the Pharisees at the end of this encounter: “you were born totally in sin.” Often used as a proof text for original sin, the text is arguably more about the enlightenment through baptism (God’s action) and the life of the disciple. This is explained further in the final verses of the whole theatrical piece when Jesus speaks and addresses the nature of sin as blindness. So here we have a further aspect or facet of sin given to us. Sin is an act of pride (Genesis), sin as turned in on oneself (St. Augustine: “incorvata in se”, and here sin as blindness or living in the dark deliberately.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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