In 1999, Dafne Gutierrez who was 13 years old was diagnosed with a medical condition that damaged her optical nerves. She took medications received several treatments and even underwent many surgeries. However, in 2015 she completely lost her sight. She said she could look directly at the sun and would see nothing. Her doctors declared her blindness to be “permanent and medically irreversible.”
In January 2016, the first-class relics of St. Charbel were visiting her parish in Phoenix at St Joseph Maronite Catholic Church. Being the mother of three, she greatly desired to regain her sight to better care for her children.
Dafne, her husband, and her children decided to attend church and venerate the relics. Less than 72 hours after being blessed with the relics, her sight was completely restored to 20/20 vision. The remarkable and sudden healing was confirmed that day by an ophthalmologist and later by several other physicians.
Dafne regained her sight through the intercession of St. Charbel by the power of Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Our physical faculty of sight is so essential to our life that we see physical blindness as a great evil. That evil and how unlikely one would be to recover from it demonstrates the gravity of today’s Gospel miracle.
St. John writes, “It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.” Another translation reads, “Since the beginning of time, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.”
Several Fathers of the Church explicate the phrase “since the beginning of time” by making a parallel to the book of Genesis. They see Christ as the creator who gives new sight with clay, just as man was made out of clay. He also mixes the clay with his own saliva, he being the Word that created all things.
Another noteworthy point the Fathers see is the parallel of the waters of the fountain of Siloam with the waters of Baptism. Christ could have easily cured him simply by speaking one word. Yet, he perfers to teach us with these signs by pointing to a deeper spiritual meaning.
We see a drastic contrast between the man born blind, whose sight was restored, and the Pharisees, who were spiritually blind. Today’s Gospel spends more time telling us about their blindness than the miracle itself.
In the case of the Pharisees, their spiritual blindness is a consequence of pride, envy, and hardness of heart. Jesus again and again tries to reach out to them. He shows them miracles, explains the law of love, admonishes them, and even explicitly points out their blindness, but nothing prompts their change.
The only way to truly regain our spiritual sight is first to acknowledge our blindness. Unless we approach Christ with humility, he will not heal us. Not because he doesn’t care or he doesn’t have the power to do it, but because he respects our freedom. This respect is shown in his interaction with the Pharisees .
Lent is a time of conversion — an invitation to regain our spiritual sight. Jesus invites us to go deep and explore our sins, failings, and defects. He is the light of the world; he wants to restore light and sight in us.
A great way to accomplish this during Lent is to make a good confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, together with the Anointing of the Sick, is a Sacrament of healing. Let’s approach it with confidence and joy, knowing we will encounter Christ, our light.