1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parent, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.[1]

1293 After showing the enlightening power of his teaching by his own words [cf. 1 118], our Lord confirms this by his action, when he gives sight to one physically blind. In regard to this three things are presented: first, the man's infirmity; secondly, his healing (v 6); thirdly, a discussion among the Jews about this health (v 8). In regard to the first he does two things: first, the man's infirmity is mentioned; secondly, we see an inquiry about its cause (v 2).

1294 It should be noted in regard to the first that Jesus hid himself and left the temple, and while passing by he saw this blind man, as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. Three things are considered here. First, he passed by to avoid the anger of the Jews: "Do not kindle the coals of a sinner lest you be burned in his flaming fire" (Sir 8:10). Secondly, he wanted to try and soften their hardness of heart by working a miracle: "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin" (15:24). Thirdly, he went on his way in order to confirm his words by working a sign; for our Lord's works produce faith in the things that he says: "He confirmed the message by the sign that attended it" (Mk 16:20).

In the mystical sense, according to Augustine, this blind man is the human race.[2] Sin is a spiritual blindness: "Their wickedness blinded them" (Wis 2:21). The human race is blind from birth, because it contracted sin from his its origin, for the blindness occurs through sin in the first man, from whom all of us draw our origin. We read, "We were by nature," by natural origin, "children of wrath" (Eph 2:3).

1295 Then (v2), the cause of this man's infirmity is discussed: first, the disciples ask about its cause; secondly, Christ explains it.

1296 In regard to the first, three things are to be considered. The first is the reason for the disciples questioning Christ. According to Chrysostom, this was because Jesus, leaving the temple and seeing this blind man, looked at him intently, as though seeing in him an opportunity to manifest his power. And so the disciples seeing him look so intently at the blind man were impelled to question him.[3]

Secondly, we see the seriousness of the disciples, because they say, Rabbi, calling him Teacher, to indicate that they are questioning him in order to learn. Thirdly, we see why they asked, who sinned? when they inquire into the reason for the man's blindness.

It must be said, according to Chrysostom, that because the Lord said to the paralytic, when he healed him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you," the disciples thought that his infirmity was due to sin.[4] They also thought that every human illness arose from sin, as Eliphaz said: "Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?" (Jb 4:7). Therefore, they asked whether he had been born blind on account of his own sin or that of his parents. It does not seem to have been on account of his own sin, because no one sins before he is born, since souls do not exist before their bodies, nor do they sin, as some mistakenly think: "Though they were not yet born and had done nothing, either good or bad … not because of works but because of his call, she was told 'The elder will served the younger'" (Rom 9:11). Nor does it seem that he suffered on account of a sin of his parents, for we read: "The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for the fathers" (Deut 24:16).

Note that people are punished with two kinds of punishment. One is spiritual and concerns the soul; the other is bodily and concerns the body. A child is never punished on account of his father with a spiritual punishment, because the soul of a child is not from his father but from God: "All souls are mine," that is, by creation, "the soul of the father as well as the soul of the child is mine: the soul that sins shall be punished" [Ez 18:4]. Augustine also says this in one of his letters.[5] But a child is punished on account of his father with a bodily punishment, since he is of his father as far as his body is concerned. This is expressly shown in Genesis (c 19) where when Sodom was destroyed the children of the inhabitants of Sodom were killed on account of the sins of their parents. Again, the Lord very often threatened to destroy the children of the Jews on account of the sins of their parents.

1297 To understand why one person is punished on account of the sins of another, we must realize that a punishment has two aspects: it is an injury and a remedy. Sometimes a part of the body is cut off to save the entire body. And a punishment of this kind causes an injury insofar as a part is cut off, but it is a remedy insofar as it saves the body itself. Still, a doctor never cuts off a superior member to save one which is inferior, but the other way around. Now in human matters, the soul is superior to the body, and the body is superior to external possessions. And so it never happens that someone is punished in his soul for the sake of his body, but rather he is punished in his body as a curing remedy for his soul. Therefore, God sometimes imposes physical punishments, or difficulties in external concerns, as a beneficial remedy for the soul. And then punishments of this kind are not given just as injuries, but as healing remedies. Thus, the killing of the children of Sodom was for the good of their souls: not because they deserved it, but so they would not be punished more severely for increasing their sins in a life spent in imitating their parents. And in this way some are often punished for the sins of their parents.[6]

1298 Then when he says, Jesus answered, our Lord reveals the reason for the man's infirmity: first, he excludes the reason they assumed; secondly, he mentions the real reason; and thirdly, he explains it.

1299 He excludes the reason they assumed when he says, it was not that this man sinned, or his parents: for the disciples had assumed that this was the reason for his infirmity, as was said. But a contrary statement is found in Romans [3:23]: "All have sinned and are in need of God's glory." And again we read that sin has passed into all men from Adam. I answer to this that both the blind man and his parents did contract original sin and even added other actual sins during their live, for we read: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8). But when the Lord says, it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, he means that his blindness did not come as a result of their sins.

1300 He mentions the real reason when he says, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him, for through the works of God we are led to a knowledge of him: "his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rom 1:20); "The very works which my Father has given me to perform…they bear witness to me" (5:36). But the knowledge of God is man's greatest good, since his happiness consists in this: "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent" (17:3); "Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me" (Jer 9:24). If, therefore, an infirmity occurs in order that God's works be manifested, and God is made known through this manifestation, it is clear that such bodily infirmities occur for a good purpose.

1301 It might seem that the manifestation of God's works is not a sufficient reason for such an infirmity, especially since neither he nor his parents sinned. Therefore, some say that the words but that do not indicate the reason but merely the sequence of events. The sense then being: the man was blind, and the works of God were manifested in his cure. But this does not seem to be reasonable; and so it is better to say that the reason is being given. For evil is twofold: the evil of fault and the evil of punishment. Now God does not cause the evil of fault, but permits it; yet he would not permit it unless he intended some good from it. So Augustine says in his Enchiridion: "God is so good that he would never permit any evil to occur, unless he was so powerful as to draw some good from every evil."[7] Therefore, he allows certain sins to be committed because he intends some good; in this way, he allows the rage of tyrants so that martyrs may be crowned. Much more, therefore, should it be said that the evil of punishment, which he causes - as Amos (3:6) says: "Does evil befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?" - is never applied except for the good he intends. And among these goods the best is that the works of God be manifested, and from them that God be known. Therefore, it is not unfitting if he sends afflictions or allows sins to be committed in order that some good come from them.[8]

1302 It should be noted, as Gregory says in I Morals, that God sends afflictions to men in five ways.[9] Sometimes they are the beginning of damnation, according to Jeremiah: "Strike them with a double punishment." A sinner is struck with this kind of punishment in this life so that without interruption or end he might be punished in the other life. For example, Herod, who killed James, was punished in this life and also in hell (Acts 12:23). Sometimes afflictions are sent as a correction, as we read: "Your discipline will teach me" [Ps 17:36]. And sometimes a person is afflicted not to correct past wrongs, but to preserve him from future ones, as we read of Paul: "And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated" (2 Cor 12:7). Again, sometimes it is done to encourage virtue: as when a person's past sins are not being corrected, nor future ones hindered, but he is led to a stronger love by knowing the power of the one who unexpectedly delivered him from some difficulty: "Virtue is made perfect in infirmity" [2 Cor 12:9]; "Patience has a perfect work" [Jas 1:4]. And finally, sometimes afflictions are sent to manifest the divine glory; thus we read here, that the works of God might be made manifest in him.

1303 Next he explains the true reason. And because he had mentioned God's works, first he states the opportunity for manifesting God's works; secondly, the reason for this opportunity or need, night comes; and thirdly, he explains this (v 5).

1304 He says, therefore, this man was born blind that the works of God might be made manifest in him. And it was necessary that they be manifested, for we must work the works of him who sent me, that is, the works entrusted to me by my Father: "I have come to do the will of him who sent me" (6:38). And below he says: "Father, I have accomplished the work you gave me to do" (17:4). Or, these words can refer to Christ insofar as he is God; and then they indicate the equality of his power with that of the Father. Then the meaning is, we must work the works of him who sent me, that is, the works which I have from the Father. For everything that the Son does, even according to his divine nature, he has from his Father: "The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing" (5:19).

1305 I say we must work while it is day. Our natural day is produced by the presence of the sun to the earth. But the Sun of Justice or Righteousness is Christ, our God: "But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise" (Mal 4:2). Therefore, as long as this Sun is present to us, the works of God can be done in us, for us, and by us. At one time this Sun was physically present to us; and then it was day: "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps 118:24). Therefore, it was fitting to do the works of God. He is also present us by grace; and then it is the day of grace, when it is fitting to do the works of God, while it is day; "The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom 13:12); "Those who sleep, sleep at night" (1 Thess 5:7).

1306 If the presence of the sun produces day, and its absence night, then, since the sun is always present to itself, it is always day for the sun; and so for the sun, it is always the time for acting and illuminating. But with regard to ourselves, to whom it is sometimes present and at other times absent, it is not always acting and illuminating. In the same way for Christ, the Sun of Justice, it is always day and the time for acting; but not with respect to us, because we are not always able to receive his grace due to some obstacle on our part.

1307 He mentions why this is our opportunity when he says, night comes, when no one can work. Just as there are two kinds of day, so there are two kinds of night. One is by the physical departure of the Sun of Justice, which is what the Apostles experienced when they were demoralized at the time of the passion, when Christ was physically taken from them: "you will all fall away because of me this night" (Mt 26:31). Then it was not the time for acting, but for suffering.

But it is better to say that even when Christ was physically absent because of his ascension, it was still day for the Apostles insofar as the Sun of Justice shone on them, and it was a time for working. And so night in this passage refers to that night which comes from the spiritual separation from the Sun of Justice, that is, by the separation from grace. This night is of two kinds. One is by the loss of actual grace through mortal sin: "Those who sleep, sleep at night" (1 Thess 5:7). When this night comes, no one can perform works that merit eternal life. The other night is total, when one is deprived not only of actual grace by mortal sin, but even of the ability of obtaining grace because of an eternal damnation in hell. Here there is a vast night for those to whom it will be said: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire" (Mt 24:41). During this night no one can work, because it is not the time for meriting, but for receiving according to one's merits. Therefore, while you are living, do now what you will want to have done then: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought of knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going" (Eccl 9:10).

1308 He gives the reason for what he has just said, saying, as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. This is like saying: If you want to know what is that day and what is that night of which I speak, I say that I am the light of the world, for my presence makes day, and my absence night; "I am the light of the world" (8:12). As long as I am in the world by my bodily presence - "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father" (16:28) - I am the light of the world. And thus this day lasted until the ascension of Christ. Or again, as long as I am in the world spiritually by grace - "I am with you until the consummation of the world" [Mt 28:20] - I am the light of the world. And this day will last until the consummation of the world.

1309 Next, when the Evangelist says, as he said this, he spat on the ground, he describes the healing of the blind man. Here five things were done by Christ. First, he moistens the earth, he spat on the ground. Secondly, he made the clay, as we read, he made clay of the spittle. Thirdly, Christ smeared the man's eyes and anointed the man's eyes. Fourthly, he commands the man to wash, with go, wash in the pool of Siloam. And fifthly, the man's sight is restored, and he came back seeing. Each of these has both a literal and a mystical explanation.

1310 The literal meaning is explained by Chrysostom in this way.[10] Christ restored the man's sight by spittle in order to show that he accomplished this by a power coming from himself, and that the miracle should not be attributed to anything else: "Power came forth from him" (Lk 6:19). Although our Lord could have performed all his miracles by his mere word, because "he commanded and they were created" (Ps 148:5), he frequently used his body in them to show that as an instrument of his divinity it held a definite healing power. He made clay from his spittle to show that he who had formed the entire first man can reshape the deficient members of a man. Thus, just as he formed the first man from clay, so he made clay to re-form the eyes of the one born blind.

He rubbed the clay on the eyes of the one born blind to show, by healing what is most important in bodies, that he was the creator of bodies. For man is more excellent than all other bodily substances; and among his members, the head is the more excellent; and among the organs of the head, the eye is more excellent than the others: "The eye is the lamp of the body" (Mt 6:22). Therefore, by repairing the eye, which is more excellent than the other bodily members, he showed that he was the creator of the entire man and of all corporeal nature. He said, go, wash in the pool of Siloam, so that it would not seem that the clay he rubbed on the eyes had the power to heal them. Thus, as long as he had the clay on his eyes, the man did not see, but saw only after he washed.

He sent him some distance to wash, to the pool of Siloam, first, to overcome the obstinacy of the Jews. For he had to cross the city, and so all would see the blind man going with the clay on his eyes, and then returning with his sight restored. Secondly, he did this to acclaim the obedience and faith of the blind man; for perhaps he had frequently had clay put on his face, and had often washed in the pool of Siloam, and yet had not seen. So he could have said: "Clay usually makes me worse, and I have often washed in the pool but was never helped," as we read of Naaman in 2 Kings (5:10). Yet he did not argue, but simply obeyed. Thus it follows, so he went and washed. The reason why he sent him to the pool of Siloam was because the Jewish people were signified by that water: "Because this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently" (Is 8:6) Therefore, he sent him to Siloam to show that he still loved the Jewish people.

The effect follows, because he came back seeing. This was predicted in Isaiah (35:5): "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened."

1311 Augustine gives the mystical and allegorical explanation. He says that the spittle, which is saliva that descends from the head, signifies the Word of God, who proceeds from the Father, the head of all things: "I came forth from the mouth of the Most High" (Sir 24:3). Therefore, the Lord made clay from spittle and the earth when the Word was made flesh. [11] He anointed the eyes of the blind man, that is, of the human race. And the eyes are the eyes of the heart, anointed by faith in the incarnation of Christ. But the blind man did not yet see, because the anointing produced a catechumen, who has faith but has not yet been baptized. So he sends him to the pool of Siloam to wash and receive his sight, i.e., to be baptized, and in baptism to receive full enlightenment. Thus, according to Dionysius, baptism is an enlightenment: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness" (Ezek 36:25).[12] And so this Gospel is appropriately read in Lent, on Holy Saturday, when those about to be baptized are examined. Nor is it without reason that the Evangelist adds the meaning of the pool, saying, which means Sent, because whoever is baptized must be baptized in Christ, who was sent by the Father: "As many of you as were baptized in Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). For if Christ had not been sent, none of us would have been freed from sin.

According to Gregory, however, the spittle signifies the savor of intimate contemplation, which flows from the head into the mouth, because due to the love of our Creator we have been touched even in this life with the savor of revelation.[13] Thus the Lord mixed spittle with earth and restored sight to the man born with his contemplation, and heals our understanding from its original blindness.


8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, "Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some said, "It is he"; others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am the man." 10 They said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" 11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes an said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went and washed and received my sight." 12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." 16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was a division among them. 17 So they again said to the blind man, "What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet." 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, 19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" 20 His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age, ask him."[14]

1312 After the description of the miraculous healing of the blind man, the Evangelist tells of the miracle being examined. First, the miracle is examined by the people; secondly, by the Pharisees (v 13); and thirdly, on account of his confession the blind man is instructed and commended by Christ (v 35). In regard to the first, the Evangelist mentions three things: first, we see an inquiry about the person who received his sight; secondly, about the restoration itself (v 10); and thirdly about the one who restored his sight (v 1). In regard to the first he does three things: first, we have a question about the one who received his sight; secondly, the different opinions about this are given; thirdly, the question is settled.

1313 The question is asked by the people. He says, the neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar said: Is not this the man who used to sit and beg? Here two things are to be considered. One is that due to the greatness of the miracle, it was considered incredible. So we read below: "Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind" (9:32). This fulfills for them what is said in Habakkuk (1:5), "I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." Secondly, we should note the wonderful compassion of God, because our Lord performs miracles not only for the powerful, but also for outcasts, since he healed, with great pity, those who begged. This shows that he who came for our salvation rejected no one because of their poverty: "Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?" (Jas 2:5). Thus they explicitly say, Is not this the man who used to sit and beg? This is like saying: He is an outcast and does not deserve to be cured. But Baruch says the opposite: "The giants who were born there…God did not choose them" (3:26).

1314 The opinions of the people are presented when he says, Some said: It is he, the beggar, because they had often seen him begging, and later hurrying through the town when he went to the pool with the clay on his eyes. Thus they could not deny that it was he. But others were on the contrary opinion, so they said, No, but it is like him. The reason for this, as Augustine says, is that the man's appearance changed when he regained his sight, for nothing is so characteristic as the expression a person gets from his eyes: "A sensible man is known by his face" (Sir 19:29).[15]

1315 The question is settled by the blind man because he said, the blind man, I am the man, the one who used to beg. His voice was grateful. For since he could not be ungrateful for such a great favor and was unable to show any other sign of gratitude than to constantly declare that he had been cured by Christ, he said, I am the man, the one who was blind and begged; and now I see: "Praise God and give thanks to him…for what he has done for you" (Tob 12:6).

1316 Then (v 10), we see the investigation of the act, which was the restoration of the man's sight. First, we have the question asked by the Jews; secondly, the answer of the blind man (v 11).

1317 They continue: If you are the blind man who used to beg, then tell us, how were your eyes opened? This question came from their vain curiosity because neither the one who was cured nor we ourselves know how it was done: "Do not meddle in what is beyond your tasks" (Sir 3:23).

1318 The blind man's answer was remarkable; he says, the man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes…In his answer he first points out the person who gave him his sight, saying the man called Jesus. He was right in calling him a man; he knew that he was a man, and he was a true man: "Born in the likeness of man" (Phil 2:7). For although he had not seen Jesus, because he had left while still blind to go to Siloam, he knew him from his voice and from the conversations of others about him.

Secondly, he tells what was done, saying, he made clay and anointed my eyes. Here he shows that he is truthful, not asserting what is not certain. For our Lord had made clay from spittle, but he did not know this; yet through his sense of touch he recognized the clay which was made and placed over his eyes. So he did not say, "He made clay from spittle," but only, he made clay and anointed my eyes: "That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands…we proclaim also to you" (1 Jn 1:1).

Thirdly, he mentions the command, saying, and he said to me, Go to Siloam and wash. This was also necessary for us, for if we wish to be cleansed from our blindness of heart, it is necessary that we be spiritually washed; "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean" (Is 1:16).

Fourthly, he shows his obedience, saying, so I went and washed. He is saying in effect: Because I heard this command and desired to see, I obeyed. And it is no wonder, because we read: "For the commandment," that is, when obeyed, "is a lamp and the teaching a light" (Prov 6:23).

Fifthly, he mentions the good effect, saying, and I received my sight. It was fitting that he be enlightened after obeying, because as it says in Acts (5:32): "It is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." Notice the perseverance of the blind man. As Augustine says: "Look at him! He became a preacher of grace. See him! He preaches and testifies to the Jews. This blind man testified, and the hearts of the wicked were vexed, because they did not have the light in their hearts which he had in his face."[16]

1319 Next, we have the inquiry about the person who restored his sight (v 12). First, there is the question asked by the Jews, Where is he? They asked this maliciously, as they were thinking of killing him; for they had already formed a conspiracy against Christ: "But now you seek to kill me" (8:40).

Secondly, we have the answer of the blind man, I do not know. As Augustine says, from these words it is clear that what was accomplished in him physically represents what is accomplished spiritually at different stages.[17] For at first, the blind man is anointed, and then sees after his washing. The anointing represents the beginning of his physical health, and the washing leads to complete health. In particular, an anointing produces a catechumen; and the washing, that is, baptism, perfects and enlightens him. Thus we have a representation of the difference in faith found at different stages. For when he says, I do not know, this represents the imperfect faith of catechumens: "You worship what you do not know" (4:22). This can also signify our faith: "For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect" (1 Cor 13:9).

1320 Then when he says, they brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind, we see his examination by the Pharisees. First, they question the man born blind; secondly, his parents (v 18). He does three things with the first. First, we see the person to be examined; secondly, he mentions the intention of the examiners; and thirdly we have the interrogation itself.

1321 The one to be examined, the blind man, is led to the Pharisees by the people. They brought, that is, the crowd, to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. They did this because the crowd was trying to find out from him where Jesus was, so that if they found him they could bring him to the Pharisees and accuse him of breaking the Sabbath. So because they did not have Christ they took the blind man, so that by questioning him more roughly they might force him by fear to make up something false about Christ: "I will go to the great, and will speak to them; for they know the way of the Lord, the law of their God. But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds" (Jer 5:5).

1322 The Evangelist shows that their intention was perverse, saying, it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay. He says this to show their evil intention and the reason why they sought Jesus, that is, to find a charge against him and detract from his miracle by his supposed violation of the law. Nevertheless, it should be said that "The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Mt 12:8).

1323 His examination is conducted by the Pharisees, since it is said, The Pharisees again asked him. First, they question him about what was done; secondly, about the person who did it (v 16).

1324 The Evangelist does two things about the first: first, he presents their interrogation; secondly, the blind man's answer. They ask him about the sign he received, the Pharisees again asked him, not in order to learn, but to find a reason to accuse him of lying. The blind man answers them, not contradicting what he said before, nor deviating from the truth. He, that is, the blind man, said to them, He put clay on my eyes. We must, first, admire the perseverance of this blind man, for although it may not seem such a great thing to have spoken the truth when he, without danger, was questioned by the crowd, he showed remarkable perseverance when in greater danger before the Pharisees he neither denied what he had said before nor changed his account: "I will also speak of thy testimonies before kings, and shall not be put to shame" (Ps 119:46). Secondly, we should admire his skill, for it is good practice to first relate an event in detail and with all its circumstances, and then if it has to be repeated, to speak more concisely. So here, he does not repeat the name of the one who spoke to him, nor that he was told to go and wash. But without hesitation he relays only the essential, and says, He put clay on my eyes.

1325 Next (v 16), an inquiry is made about the one who restored the man's sight. First, the different opinions of the Pharisees concerning Christ are given; secondly, the opinion of the blind man is sought (v 17). In regard to the first he does three things: first, he presents the opinion of those who were blaspheming Christ; then, the opinion of those who were commending him; thirdly, he concludes with the fact that they were arguing and disagreeing among themselves.

1326 We should note, concerning the first, that those who act maliciously against someone keep silent if they see anything good in his work, and they reveal the evil, if any is seen, even turning what is good into evil, according to "Beware of a scoundrel, for he devises evil, lest he give you a lasting blemish" (Sir 11:33). This is what they are doing here: for they do not mention what seemed good, that is, the restoration of the blind man's sight, but stress what they can against Christ, that is, his breaking of the Sabbath. Thus some of the Pharisees said, that is, those who were malicious and corrupt, this man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath. But Christ did keep the Sabbath, for when the Lord forbade work on the Sabbath he had in mind servile work, which is a sin: "Every one who does sinful works on the Sabbath breaks the Sabbath. So Christ, who was without sin, rather than they, kept the Sabbath.

1327 The opinion of those commending him is presented when he reports them as saying, How can a man who is a sinner do such signs? These others had some faith due to the signs that Christ worked, but were still weak and imperfect; it was out of fear of the Pharisees and the elders that they asked with hesitation, How can a man who is a sinner do such signs? We read below that "Many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it" (12:42). They should have shown how our Lord had not broken the Sabbath, and have appropriately replied in defense of Jesus.

1328 The difference of opinion among them is mentioned when he says, there was a division among them; and this division was also found in the people. This was a sign of their destruction: "Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt" (Hos 10:2); "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste" (Mt 12:25).

1329 Next (v 17), they ask the blind man for his opinion. And first we have the question the Pharisees asked; secondly, the blind man's answer.

They question him, saying, what do you say about him? According to Chrysostom, this question was not asked by those who were blaspheming Christ, but by those favorably disposed.[18] This is clear from the way they questioned him; for they call his attention to the gift he received, saying, since he has opened your eyes. If the others had been doing the questioning, they would not have said this, but would rather recall that Christ broke the Sabbath. But these remind him of the benefit that he received to make him grateful and lead him to testify to Christ.

But according to Augustine, this question was asked by Christ's enemies, who wanted to deprecate this man who constantly professed the truth; or they were trying to get him to change his opinion out of fear; or at least were attempting to exclude him from the synagogue.[19]

The answer of the blind man remained the same, he said, He is a prophet. Although up to this time, as though unanointed in heart, he did not yet profess that Christ was the Son of God, he firmly expressed what he thought and did not lie. For our Lord said of himself: "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country" (Mt 13:57); "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet…him shall you heed" (Dt 18:15).

1330 Next (v 18), we see his parents questioned. First, we have the reason why they were questioned; secondly, the question itself (v 19); thirdly their answer (v 20); and fourthly, the reason for this answer (v 22).

1331 The reason for this second questioning was the unbelief of the Pharisees. He says, the Jews, that is, the Pharisees, did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man. They did this in an attempt to nullify the miracle of Christ and to preserve their own glory: "How can you believe, who receive glory from one another?" (Jn 5:44).

1332 The Pharisees now question his parents. Here they ask about three things. First, about their son, saying Is this your son? Secondly, about his blindness; and so they add, who you say was born blind. They did not say, "who at one time was blind," but who you say, implying that they made this up. What father would lie in such a way about his son? Yet they were trying to make him say he did.

Thirdly, they ask how he had obtained his sight, How then does he now see? This was like saying: Either it is false that he now sees, or that he was once blind; but obviously the truth is that he sees; therefore it was false to say that he had been blind: "The powerful man will test you through much talking, and while he smiles he will be examining you" (Sir 13:11).

1333 Then, the answer of his parents is given (v 20). The Pharisees had asked about three things; they answer firmly about two and in regard to the third they refer them to their son. First, they admit the first, namely, that he is their son; so they say, we know that this is our son. They also admit the second when they add, and that he was born blind. This shows that the truth always conquers what is false, as we read in the apocryphal 3 Esdras (3:13): "Truth conquers all." Yet as to the third question, how their son sees, they answer, but how he now sees we do not know.

They reply, secondly, about the person who gave him his sight, now do we know who opened his eyes. They answer this way because the question was directed against the one who gave sight to their son, and so they refer this to their son, saying, Ask him, he is of age. This was like saying: He was born blind, not mute; thus he can speak for himself in this matter. The testimony about this miracle was from several sources so as to make it more believable: the parents told what they knew, and their blind son confirmed that he had been cured.

1334 The reason for their answer is given when he says, his parents said this because they feared the Jews; for they were still imperfect and did not dare do what our Lord says: "Do not fear those who kill the body" (Mt 10:28). The reason for their fear was that the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. "I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues" (Jn 16:11). As Augustine says, it was no longer an evil to be cast out of the synagogue, for the ones they rejected Christ welcomed.[20]


24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner." 25 he answered, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, I now see." 26 They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27 He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?" 28 And they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." 30 The man answered, "Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." 34 They answered him, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they cast him out.[21]

1335 After the questioning of the blind man and his parents, an attempt is made to make him deny the truth and affirm what is false. First, they attempt to make him deny the truth; secondly, they revile him (v 28); and thirdly, they condemn him (v 34). The Evangelist does two things about the first. First, he shows how they tried to get the man born blind to deny the truth; secondly, how they continued to question him in order to malign him (v 26). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he shows their malice; and secondly, the steadfastness of the man born blind (v 25). The malice of the Pharisees is shown by their attempt to have him deny the truth, while the steadfastness of the blind man appears by his resolute profession of the truth.

1336 In regard to the first he says, for the second time they called the man who had been blind, for his parents had referred them to the blind man, and said to him: Give God the praise. They say one thing but mean another. For they wish to force him to say that his sight was not restored by Christ, or if they are unable to do this, to force him to admit that he was cured by him through sorcery. They do not say this openly, but implicitly, with an appearance of devotion. They attempt this by saying, Give God the praise. As if to say: Your sight has been given to you. But only God can do this. Therefore, you should not attribute this to anyone but God, and not to this man, that is, Christ, because if you do this you are indicating that you have not received the gift of your healing from God, for the reason that God does not perform miracles through sinners. Thus they add, we know that this man is a sinner. But, as Augustine says, if he had done this, he would not be giving glory to God but rather, being ungrateful, would be blaspheming.[22] But in truth, the Pharisees were lying when they said, we know that this man is a sinner; for above (8:46), they could not convict him of sin, and he said: "which of you convicts me of sin?" And no wonder, because "He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips" (1 Pet 2:22).

1337 Here we see the steadfastness of the blind man. For amazed at the hardness of the Pharisees, and impatient with what they were saying, he says, in all truth, Whether he is a sinner, I do not know.

Yet because he had said before that "He is a prophet," is he not now saying, Whether he is a sinner I do not know, out of fear, as if he were doubtful? Not at all! Rather, he is angry and mocking the Pharisees. He is saying in effect: You say that he is a sinner; but I do not know that he is a sinner, and I am amazed that you say this, because he accomplished a work which does not seem to be the work of a sinner, because though I was blind, now I see, by his kindness. According to Augustine, he said this in order not to be maligned nor to conceal the truth. For perhaps if he had said, "I know that he is a just man," which was true, they would have maligned him.[23] But according to Chrysostom, he said this to give them a more impressive testimony to the miracle, and to make his answer believable by calling attention to the gift itself he received.[24]

1338 They again question the man born blind in order to malign him. First, we have the cunning interrogation of the Pharisees; and secondly, the contemptuous reply of the blind man (v 27).

1339 He says, with respect to the first, They said to him: What did he do to you? The blind man had said that he had received his sight from Christ, which the Pharisees had not asked about. It was their intention to malign Christ, so they now ask rather how he did it. So they did not ask "How is it that you see?" but How did he open your eyes? It was like saying: "He did this by some trick or sorcery, didn't he?" "Those who seek my hurt speak of ruin, and meditate treachery all the day long" (Ps 38:12).

1340 Now the man's answer is given. The man born blind, because he really had received his sight, answers them further, not timidly, but with boldness. He first belittles the repeated questioning of the Pharisees, saying, I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? This was like saying: I told you once. Why do you want to hear it again? That's foolish! It looks like you are not paying attention to what I am saying. So, I have nothing further to say to you because your questioning is useless, and you want to cavil rather than learn. "He who tells a story to a fool tells it to a drowsy man; and at the end he will say: 'What is it'" (Sir 22:8).

Secondly, he mocks the presumptuous intention of the Pharisees, saying, Do you too want to become his disciples? When someone carefully investigates a matter, he does so either with a good intention, to accept it, or with an evil intention, to condemn it. Now because the Pharisees were carefully investigating this, and because the man born blind did not dare impute an evil intention to them, he takes the alternative, saying, Do you too want to become his disciples? He means by this: If you are not investigating this maliciously, you therefore wish to join him: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil" (Jer 13:23). As Augustine says: The one who had received his sight gladly desired to give them light.[25] Thus, he significantly says, you too, implying that he himself was a disciple. He is saying in effect: Do you want to become his disciples as I am? I already see, and do not envy your coming to the light. And as Chrysostom says, from the steadfastness of the blind man we can see how strong truth really is, for when it convinces the lowly, it makes them noble and strong. And we can see how weak is a lie, which even if it is maintained by the powerful, shows and makes them weak.[26]

1341 Next, the Pharisees revile the man born blind. First, we see them revile him; then, secondly, the defense of the blind man (v 30). He does two things concerning the first: first, he presents the revilement of the Pharisees; secondly, the reason behind it (v 28b).

1342 With respect to the first he says, and they reviled him, saying, You are his disciple. This is, indeed, scornful, if you consider their vicious hearts. But if you consider their words, it is the greatest blessing. May we and our children be treated with such scorn! "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples" (Jn 8:31). Still, the Evangelist stated that they reviled him by saying this because what they said came from their evil hearts: "Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are smooth lips with an evil heart" (Prov 26:23). We read about this revilement in the Psalm 109 (v 28): "let them curse, but do thou bless"; and in Matthew (5:11): "Blessed are you when men revile you."

1343 He next adds the reason for their reviling when he says, we are disciples of Moses. They were thinking of how they were ridiculed by the man born blind when he asked if they wanted to become Christ's disciples; for they took pride in being disciples of Moses, whom they thought was greater. First, they set forth their own situation, saying, we are disciples of Moses. But this pride of theirs is false, because they neither followed Moses nor fulfilled his commands: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me" (Jn 5:46); this was like saying: You do not follow the servant [Moses], and later go against his Lord.

Secondly, they praise the dignity of Moses when they say, we know that God has spoken to Moses. Here they are telling the truth, for as we read: "The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11); and "If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth" (Num 12:6). Thus God spoke to Moses in a more excellent way than to the other prophets. And it is about this that they are speaking. However, it is clear that since God spoke his Word to Moses, the dignity of Moses came from the Word of God. And so the Word of God is of greater dignity than Moses: "Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house" (Heb 3:3).

Thirdly, they hint at the dignity of Christ in a veiled manner when they say, as for this man, Christ, we do not know where he comes from. This is true, but not the way they understood it: for they did not know the Father, and Christ was from the Father: "you know neither me nor my Father" (8:19). But their statement is false as they understood it, for when they said, we do not know where he comes from, they meant he had no authority and was unverified, so that is was not clear whether or not he came from God. They seem to be applying to him the words of Jeremiah: "I did not send you prophets, yet they ran" (23:21).

1344 Now, the blind man's argument against the Pharisees is presented. First, he is amazed at their harness of heart; secondly, he refutes their false opinion (v 31).

1345 Concerning the first, we must recall that we are not amazed at what happens frequently, and in the usual way; but we are amazed at what is unusual and great, whether this be good or evil. We are struck by unusual and great good: "you are wonderful, my Lord, and your countenance is full of grace," as we read in Esther [15:17]. We are also amazed at great evil: "Be appalled, O heavens, at this…for my people have committed two evils" (Jer 2:12). In line with this, the blind man says in answer, Why this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from. He is saying in effect: It would not be remarkable if you regarded someone insignificant and like me as having no authority. But it is extremely amazing that you can see an explicit and evident sign of divine power in Christ and say that you do not know where he comes from, especially because he did open my eyes.

1346 The man born blind refutes their false opinion by saying, we know that God does not listen to sinners. He is reasoning this way: Whomever God hears is from God; but God heard Christ; therefore, Christ is from God. He first states his main premise; then the minor premise (v 32); and thirdly, he draws his conclusion (v 33). He does two things abut the first: first, he mentions those whom God does not hear; secondly, those he does hear (v 31b).

1347 God does not hear sinners. In regard to this he says, we know that God does not hear sinners. He is saying: Both you and I agree that sinners are not heard by God. Thus a Psalm says, "They cried to the Lord and he did not hear them"; and again, "Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer" (Prov 1:28). But there are statements which contradict this: "If they sin against thee - for there is no man who does not sin - but later repent with all their heart, then hear thou from heaven and forgive thy people" [2 Chron 6:36-39]; and in Luke (18:14) we read that the tax collector "went down to his house justified."

Because of this Augustine says that this blind man is speaking as one who has not been anointed, as one who does not yet have complete knowledge. For God does hear sinners, otherwise it would have been futile for the tax collector to have prayed: "God, be merciful to me a sinner." Accordingly, if we wish to save the statement of the blind man we must say that God does not hear those sinners who persist in their sinning; but he does hear those sinners who are sorry for their sins, and who should be regarded more as repentant than as sinners. [27]

1348 Yet there is a difficulty here. It is clear that miracles are not accomplished by us due to our own power, but through prayer. But sinners often perform miracles: "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name…and do many might works in your name?" (Mt 7:22); and yet God did not know them. Thus, what the blind man said does not seems to be true, namely, we know that God does not listen to sinners.

There are two answers to this. The first is general. Prayer has two characteristics, that is, it can obtain [what it asks for] and it can merit. Thus, sometimes it obtains what it asks, and does not merit; at other times, it merits and does not obtain. And so nothing prevents the prayer of a sinner from obtaining what it asks although it does not merit. This is the way that God hears sinners; not as a matter of merit, but they obtain what they ask from the divine power, which they acknowledge. The other answer is special and applies to this particular case, when the miracle that was done makes known the person of Christ.


1349 It should be mentioned that every miracle is a sort of testimony. Sometimes, a miracle is accomplished as a testimony to the truth that is being preached; at other times, it is a testimony to the person performing it. We must also realize that no true miracle happens except by the divine power, and that God is never a witness to a lie. I say, therefore, that whenever a miracle is performed in testimony to a doctrine that is being preached, that doctrine must be true, even if the person who is preaching it is not good. And when it is performed in testimony to the person, it is also necessary that the person be good. Now it is evident that the miracles of Christ were performed in testimony to his person: "The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish…bear me witness that the Father has sent me" (5:36). It was with this meaning that the blind man said that God does not listen to sinners, that is, so that they could perform miracles as a testimony to their supposed holiness. [28]

1350 Then when he says, but if any one is a worshiper of God…he shows that God hears the just through merit. We must realize that the performing of miracles is attributed to faith: "If you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will be done" (Mt 21:21). The reason for this is that miracles are accomplished by the omnipotence of God, on which faith relies. Therefore, whoever wishes to obtain something from God has to have faith: "Let him ask in faith" (Jas 1:6). However, if he wishes to obtain it through merit, he must do God's will. And these two conditions are mentioned here. As to the first, he says, If any one is a worshipper of God by sacrifices and offerings: "They will worship him with sacrifice and burnt offering" (Is 19:21). These belong to the worship of latria, which attests to one's faith. As to the second he says, and does his will by obeying his commandments, God listens to him.

1351 Here he takes the minor premise of his argument. He is saying: Because of what Christ did, which no man has ever done, it is obvious that he did this by the action of God, and that he has been heard by God: "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin" (Jn 15:24).

1352 Next, he draws his conclusion. He is saying, in effect: From the kind of works that Christ does, it is obvious that he is from God. For if this man were not from God, he could do nothing, that is, freely, often and truly, because "apart from me you can do nothing" (15:5).

1353 Here the Pharisees condemn the blind man. In this condemnation they fall into three defects or sins, namely, untruth, pride, and injustice. They fall into untruth in reviling the blind man, saying, you were born in utter sin. Here it should be noted that the Jews were of the opinion that all infirmities and temporal adversities beset us on account of our previous sins. This was the opinion given by Eliphaz: "Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God they perish" (Job 4:7). The reason for this opinion is that in the Old Law temporal goods were promised to the good, and temporal punishment to the evil: "If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land" (Is 1:19). Therefore, seeing that this man had been born blind, they believed that this happened on account of his sins, and so they say, you were born in utter sin. But they were wrong, because the Lord said: "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents."

They say in utter sin to show that he is defiled by sins not only in his soul, insofar as all of us are born sinners, but even as regards the traces of sin which appear in his body, as blindness. Or according to Chrysostom, in utter sin means that he was in sin all his life, from his earliest years.[29]

They are guilty of pride by rejecting what the man born blind was teaching, when they say, Would you teach us? This was like saying: You are not worthy. This makes their pride clear: for no person, no matter however wise, ought to reject being taught by any inferior. Thus the Apostle teaches (1 Cor 14:30) that if something is revealed to one who is inferior, those who are greater should keep silent and listen. In Daniel we read that all the people, and the elders, listened to the judgment of a young boy, Daniel, whose spirit has been raised up by God.

They are guilty of injustice by unjustly casting him out. Thus we read, and they cast him out, that is, because he spoke the truth. However, in this man born blind there is already fulfilled what our Lord had said: "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!" (Lk 6:22).


35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" 36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you." 38 He said, "Lord, I believe"; and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, "Are we also blind?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'we see', your guilt remains."[30]

1354 After the Evangelist showed how the Jews cast out the man born blind because he persisted in the truth, he here shows how Jesus received him and taught him. First, we see Christ teaching him; secondly, the devotion of the man born blind (v 38); thirdly, the approval of his devotion (v 39). He does three things about the first. First, he shows the eagerness of Christ to teach him; secondly, we see the desire of the man born blind to believe (v 36); and thirdly, the teaching of the faith is given to perfect him (v 37).

1355 Christ's eagerness to teach is described in three ways. First, by his attentive consideration to what was done to the man born blind. For just as a trainer carefully considers what his athlete undergoes for his sake, so Christ attentively considered what the man born blind underwent for the sake of the truth and because of his assertions. And so he says that Jesus heard, attentively considered, that the Pharisees had cast him out, of the temple: "Give heed to me, O Lord, and to the voices of my adversaries" [Jer 18:19].

Secondly, we see Christ's eagerness from his efforts in searching for him, for the Evangelist says, and having found him; for we are said to find what we diligently seek: "She seeks diligently, until she finds it" (Lk 15:8). It is clear from this that Christ was looking for him alone, because he found more faith in him alone that in all the others. And we can see from this that God loves one just person more than ten thousand sinners: "I will make men more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir" (Is 13:12). And in Genesis we read that God was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of ten just men.

Thirdly, our Lord's eagerness is seen from the seriousness of his question; he said, Do you believe in the Son of God? The blind man was an image of those to be baptized. Thus the custom arose in the Church of questioning those to be baptized about their faith: "Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clean conscience" (1 Pet 3:21). When asked about his faith he does not say, "Do you believe in Christ?" but Do you believe in the Son of God? He does this, as Hilary says, because it would develop that some would profess Christ, and yet deny that he was the Son of God and God, as Arius erred.[31] These words clearly exclude this error: for if Christ were not God, we would not have to believe in him, since God alone is the object of faith, which rests on the first truth. Thus he significantly says, in the Son (in Filium); for I am certainly able to believe some creature, such as Peter and Paul (credere Petro et Paulo), yet I do not believe in Peter (credere in Petrum), but in God (in Deum) alone as the object of faith [cf. no. 901]. Thus it is clear that the Son of God is not a creature: "You believe in God, believe also in me" (Jn 14:1).

1356 Next he mentions the desire of the man born blind to believe. We have to recall that this man had not yet physically seen Christ: for he had not seen him when Christ anointed his eyes and sent him to the pool of Siloam, and when he wanted to go back to him he was detained by the Pharisees and the Jews. However, although he had not physically seen Jesus, he believed that the one who opened his eyes was the Son of God. And so he breaks out in words of desire and intense longing, and says, And who is he, sir, namely, the Son of God, who opened my eyes, that I may believe in him? It is clear from this that he knew something about Jesus, and did not know other things about him. For if he had not known him, he would not have argued so firmly on his behalf; and if he had not been ignorant of other things, he certainly would not have said, Who is he, sir? "My soul yearns for you in the night," that is, the night of ignorance (Is 26:9).

1357 Because, as we read in Wisdom (6:16), "She," that is, Wisdom, "goes about seeking those worthy of her," Christ reveals himself to the man born blind, who desired her, when he says, You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you. Here Christ is giving him a teaching of faith. First, he mentions the gift he received, saying you have seen him, that is, you, who did not see before, have now seen him. He is saying in effect that the man born blind received the ability to see from him: "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see" (Lk 10:23); "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace…for my eyes have seen your salvation" [Lk 2:29]. Secondly, the teaching itself is given when he says, It is he who speaks to you: "In these last days he has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb 1:2).

These words refute the error of Nestorius, who said that in Christ the suppositum [or person] of the Son of God is different from the suppositum of the Son of man. They refute it because the one who spoke these words was born from Mary and was the son of man, and the very same one is the Son of God, as our Lord says. Therefore, there are two supposita [persons] in Christ, although the natures [the divine and the human] are not the same.[32]

1358 Then when the Evangelist says, he said, Lord, I believe, we see the devout faith of the man born blind. And first, he professes with his lips the faith in his heart, saying, Lord, I believe: "Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom 10:10). Secondly, he shows it in his conduct, and he worshipped him. This shows that he believes in the divine nature of Christ, because those whose consciences have been cleansed know Christ not only as the son of man, which was externally obvious, but as the Son of God, who had taken flesh: for adoration is due to God alone: "You will adore the Lord, your God" [Dt 6:13].

1359 Next (v 39), the devotion of the man born blind is commended: first, his devotion is commended; secondly, we see the grumbling of the Jews (v 40); and then they are answered (v 41).

1360 The man born blind is commended for his faith. We read, for judgment I came into this world. But on the other hand, we also read: "God sent the Son into the world, not to judge the world" [Jn 3:17]. My answer is this: In the second statement [3:17] he is speaking of the judgment of condemnation, about which we read: "Those who have done evil [will rise] to the resurrection of judgment" (Jn 5:29), that is, to a judgment of condemnation. And God did not send his Son for this purpose at his first coming; he was sent to save us. But here in the present statement [9:39], he is speaking of the judgment of distinction, about which we read: "Vindicate me, O Lord, and distinguish my cause" [Ps 43:1]. For Jesus came to distinguish the good from the evil. The words which follow show this: that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.

According to Augustine, those who think they see do not see, and those who do not think they see, see. Now, we are said to be blind, spiritually, insofar as we sin: "Their wickedness blinded them" (Wis 2:21).[33] Thus, the one who does not recognize his own sins regards himself as seeing; while one who recognizes himself as a sinner regards himself as not seeing. The first is characteristic of the proud; the second, of the humble. So the meaning is this: I have come to distinguish the humble from the proud, so that the humble, who do not see, that is, who regard themselves as sinners, may see, having been illuminated by faith, and that those who see, that is, the proud, may become blind, that is, may remain in the darkness.

1361 Chrysostom understands this passage in terms of the judgment of condemnation, so that the statement, for judgment I came into this world is not understood in a causal sense, but it indicates the sequence of events.[34] It is like saying: After my coming into the world, there follows for some the judgment of condemnation increases in them. In Luke (2:23) we find something similar: "This child is set for the falling and rising of many in Israel," not because Christ is the cause of their fall, but because this follows his coming. He adds, that those who do not see, that is, the Gentiles, who lacked the light of divine knowledge, may see, i.e., be admitted to the knowledge of God: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Is 9:2); and that those who see, the Jews, who did have a knowledge of God - "In Judah God is known" (Ps 76:1) - may become blind, fall away from the knowledge of God. The Apostle explicitly mentions this: "The Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it" (Rom 9:30).

1362 Now we see the grumbling of the Jews. They had understood our Lord's words in a bodily sense because they had seen the man born blind physically restored to sight, and had thought that our Lord was concerned only with the light in his eyes rather than in his mind. And so they believed that he was warning and threatening them with physical blindness when he said may become blind. Therefore, the Evangelist says, some of the Pharisees near him heard this, the above words. He says who were near him, to show their vacillation: for sometimes they were with him because of some miracles which they saw, and then would leave when the truth was made known to them: "They believe for a while, and in time of tribulation fall away" (Lk 8:13). And they said to him, Are we also blind, i.e., physically? Yet they were spiritually blind: "Let them alone; they are blind guides" (Mt 15:14).

1363 Next, we see the Jews silenced. According to Augustine, this shows the meaning of the previous passage, that is, that our Lord was referring to spiritual blindness.[35] He says, If you were blind, you would have no guilt, because you would be running to the remedy. For sin is taken away by grace, which is given only to the humble: "God gives grace to the humble" (Jas 4:6). But now that you say, We see, i.e., proudly thinking that you do see, you do not recognize that you are sinners, your guilt remains, i.e., is not taken away: "God opposes the proud" (Jas 4:6).

Chrysostom understands this passage as referring to physical blindness.[36] The meaning is then: If you were blind, physically, you would have no guilt, because since blindness is a physical defect, it does not have the nature of sin. But now that you say, We see, your sin is clear, because while seeing the miracles that I do, you do not believe me: "Blind the heart of this people" [Is 6:10].

Here is another explanation. If you were blind, i.e., ignorant of the judgments of God and of the sacraments of the law; you would have no guilt, i.e., so much. As if to say: If you were sinning out of ignorance, your sin would not be so serious. But now that you say, We see, i.e., arrogate to yourselves an understanding of the law and a knowledge of God, and still sin, then your guilt remains, i.e., becomes greater: "That servant who knew is master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating" (Lk 12:47).

[1] St. Thomas refers to Jn 9:3 in the Summa Theologiae: I-II, q. 87, a. 7, obj. 1; III, q. 40, a. 4, ad 1; Jn 9:4: ST III, q. 35, a. 8, obj. 3; q. 83, a. 2, ad 4; Jn 5: ST III, q. 46, a. 9, obj. 4; q. 83, a. 2, ad 4; Jn 9:6: ST III, q. 44, a. 3, ad 2.

[2] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 1, col. 1713; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:1-7.

[3] In Ioannem hom., 56, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 305; cf. Catena Aurea, 8:1-7.

[4] Ibid; cf. Catena Aurea, 8:1-7.

[5] Augustine, Epistola XLIV, ch. V no. 12, PL 33, col. 179.

[6] summa-punishment as a corrective.

[7] cf. Augustine, Epistola CLV, ch. I, no. 3; PL 33, col. 668

[8] Summa-evil of fault and evil of punishment

[9] Moralia, Praefatio, ch. 5 no. 12; PL 75, col. 523A, B; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:1-7.

[10] In Ioannem hom., 57, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 311; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:1-7.

[11] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 2, col. 1714; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:1-7.

[12] Dionysius.

[13] Moralia, Lib. 8, ch. 30, no. 49; PL 75. col. 832 C; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:1-7.

[14] St. Thomas refers to Jn 9:16 in the Summa Theologiae: I-II, q. 107, a. 2, obj. 3; III, q. 40, a. 4, ad 1.

[15] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 8, col. 1716; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:8-17.

[16] Ibid., 8; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:8-17.

[17] See Tract in Io, 44, ch. 8, col. 1716-17.

[18]In Ioannem hom., 58, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 58; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:8-17.

[19] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 9, col. 1717; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:8-17.

[20] Tract. in Io., 44, 10, col. 1717; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:18-23.

[21] St. Thomas refers to Jn 9:31 in the Summa Theologiae: II-II, q. 83, a. 16, obj. 1; q. 178, a. 2, obj. 1; III, q. 64, a. 1, obj. 2; Jn 9:32: ST III, q. 43, a. 4.

[22] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 11, col. 1718; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:24-34.

[23] Augustine-this is not in Tract in Io. (so far as I could tell)

[24] In Ioannem hom., 58, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 317; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:24-34.

[25] Tract. in Io, 44, ch. 11, col. 1718.

[26] In Ioannem hom., 58, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 318; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:24-34.

[27] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 13, col. 1718; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:24-34.

[28] Summa-sc 138-139 way in which God hears the prayers of sinners; miracles can testify to a doctrine or to a person.

[29] In Ioannem hom., 58, ch. 3; PG 59, col., 319; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:24-34.

[30] St. Thomas refers to Jn 9:39 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 51, a. 2, obj. 2; Jn 9:41: ST II-II, q. 15, a. 1, obj. 1.

[31] De Trinitate, 6 ch. 48; PL 10, col. 196B; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:35-41.

[32] Ought this to be concluding that there are two persons in Christ?

[33] Tract. in Io., 44, 16, col. 1719; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:35-41.

[34] In Ioannem hom., 59, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 323; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:35-41.

[35] Tract. in Io., 44, ch. 17, col. 1719; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:35-41.

[36] In Ioannem hom., 59, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 323; cf. Catena Aurea, 9:35-41.