Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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ST. JOHN - Chapter 9

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John ix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. When Christ healed the paralytic, he dismissed him with this injunction: Behold thou art made whole; now sin no more. From this the disciples concluded, that his infirmity was sent him in punishment of former sins. When, therefore, they saw this man afflicted with blindness, they inquired of their divine Master, whether it was on account of his or his parents' sin. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lv. in Joan.)

Ver. 3. When Christ says that neither he nor his parents had sinned, we must not understand that he was born without original sin, nor even that he had not committed other sins. For both he and his parents had sinned; but the meaning is, that this blindness was not a penal blindness inflicted in punishment of any sin either himself or his parents had committed; but, as is afterwards subjoined, it was sent him for the manifestation of the glory of God. (St. Augustine, tract. xliv. in Joan.)

Ver. 4. Whilst it is day. That is, during all the time of this mortal life; the night comes, that is, death. (Witham) --- He speaks of that night of which mention is made is St. Matthew chap. xxii. Cast him into exterior darkness. This is a night in which none can work, but only receive the reward of their labours. If you wish to work, work now whilst you live; for beyond the grave there is neither faith, nor labour, nor repentance. (St. Chrysostom, as above.)

Ver. 5. Thus the day of which I am to avail myself is the time of my mortal life; and the night which is to follow this, is that of my death. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 6. He spat on the ground. With clay and spittle he cured the blind man, to make the miracle more visible. (Witham) --- From the example of Jesus Christ, religious ceremonies are introduced in the administration of the sacraments; and can the Church be blamed for copying her divine Founder? (Haydock)

Ver. 7. The fountain of Siloe was at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem, to the east, where its waters were collected in a reservoir for the benefit of the city. Thither our Saviour sent the blind man. The word Siloe signifies sent, and was a figure of Christ, who was sent by his eternal Father into the world to enlighten all men, of whom this blind man was the emblem. The pool of Siloe represents the sacrament of baptism, by which we are sanctified and made Christians. It is still to this day held in great veneration by the Turks, who think its waters very beneficial in diseases of the eyes. (Calmet) --- Its waters signify those of divine grace and light, communicated to the faithful soul through Jesus Christ, who was sent of God. (Bible de Vence) --- Thus Sedulius:

---------------------------Cognoscite cuncti,

Mystica quid doceant animos miracula nostros.

Cœca sumus proles miserŠ de fœtibus HevŠ,

Portantes longo natas errore tenebras.

Sed dignante Deo mortalem sumere formam

Tegminis humani, facta est de Virgine nobis

Terra salutaris, quŠ fontibus oblita sacris

Clara renascentis referat spiracula lucis.

Ver. 17. The Hebrews gave the name of prophet to all those who were honoured by the Almighty in a particular manner. And it was a maxim amongst them, that a prophet could dispense with the law of the sabbath. (Calmet) --- Do you wish to know what he believed Jesus to be? asks St. Augustine. And falling down, he adored him. Before, he regarded him as a holy man, as a prophet; but he did not adore him until he understood him to be the Son of God; whereas no sooner did he know this, than, falling down, he paid him that sovereign worship which is due to God alone. (Calmet)

Ver. 22. The Jews had already agreed, or combined together, that if any one owned him for the Messias, he should be turned out of their synagogues, as a person excommunicated. (Witham)

Ver. 24. Give glory to God, before whom thou art speaking, and tell us the truth. It could not be this man who cured thee; for we know he is a sinner, who seduceth the people. (Bible de Vence) --- So say our separated brethren, when they derogate from miracles done by saints, pharisaically pretending the glory of God, as if it were not God's glory when his servants act by his power and virtue. Witness Peter's shadow, (Acts v.) and Paul's handkerchiefs that cured diseases, and expelled wicked spirits. (Acts xix. 11, 12.)

Ver. 27. I have told you already, and you have heard. In almost all Greek manuscripts we now read, and you have not heard. Beza, with good reason, here prefers the Latin Vulgate, as more correct than the Greek. (Witham)

Ver. 28. They reviled him with scornful[1] and disdainful language. (Witham)

Ver. 31. God doth not hear sinners. That is, in so particular a manner, as to work miracles in favour of them and their doctrine. (Witham)

Ver. 32. From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard. Though we read of many miracles done by Moses and the prophets, this, saith he, is the first example of any man receiving his sight who had been born blind. (Witham)

Ver. 39. For judgment I am come into this world. Christ said (chap. iii. 17.) that God did not send his Son to judge the world: the same he repeats; (John xii. 47.) nor is this contradictory to those words: the meaning here is not that he is come to exercise the office of a judge, but he tells them what will be the consequences of his coming, and their refusing to believe in him, that they shall be justly punished with the greatest severity for their wilful blindness. (Witham) --- Jesus Christ came into the world that the pagans, who were yet in darkness, might receive light, and that the Jews, who enjoyed the light, might fall into darkness. The Jews were thus condemned, on account of their presumption and hardness of heart, and grace was granted to the Gentiles to enter into the true Church. These are the designs of the Almighty upon mankind, some of whom remain in infidelity, whilst others receive the light of faith; but all is done by the secret and impenetrable decrees of the justice and wisdom of God. The Holy Ghost, by these words, tells us only what was to be the event, not what was the cause of these things. We must seek for the cause of them in the malice of the heart of man, and in the depth of the judgments of God. (Calmet) --- I am come, &c. Not that Christ came for that end, that any one should be made blind; but that the Jews, by the abuse of his coming, and by their not receiving him, brought upon themselves this judgment of blindness. (Challoner)

Ver. 40-41. The Pharisees then replied: and are we also blind? Jesus said to them: if you were blind, by ignorance in not having heard of me, and my doctrine, you might be excused for not believing; but now saying, we see: and having been yourselves in the occasions and opportunities of seeing, your sin remaineth, and you in your sins. (Witham) --- If you were blind, &c. If you were invincibly ignorant, and had neither read the Scriptures, nor seen my miracles, you would not be guilty of the sin of infidelity: but now, as you boast of your knowledge of the Scriptures, you are inexcusable. (Challoner) --- If you had humility enough to acknowledge your blindness and ignorance, and seriously to seek for a remedy, you would soon be delivered from sin, and freed from the evil of blindness. But filled as you are with presumption, you remain still in blindness, which, as it is voluntary, is at the same time criminal and inexcusable. This is your evil; this your sin. (Calmet) --- We here see that it is judged by truth itself far better not to read the Scriptures at all, than to read them with bad dispositions; not to see the miracles of Jesus Christ, than to refuse our assent to their author. At the present day all read the Scriptures, but do we see any marked improvement in the moral world? The text, without any comment, is given to Churchmen and to Dissenters: the latter gladly accept the offering, because, as the Rev. Frederick Noland observes, (in his objections of a Churchman to uniting with the Bible society, p. 34) "the authorized version is in many places accommodated to their peculiar opinions, through the conciliatory spirit of the Church, which revised the text for the purpose of doing their objections away." And in his note on this part, he adds: "The last revisal of the translation of the Bible was undertaken, as is notorious, for the purpose of removing certain objections made to the old version by the non-conformists. That the execution has been answerable to the intent, is evident from the fact of the Dissenters having withdrawn their exceptions, and adopted the version. Comp. Nichols. Defens. Eccles. Anglic. p. 33. Pierre. Vindic. Fratr. Dissent. p. 60-67." Thus (Acts xiv. 23.) "cheirotonesantes de autois presbuterous kat ekklesian. When they had ordained them elders by election, in every church. (Bp's Bible.) When they had ordained them elders in every church. (Authors. vers.) These words, as applied to St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who had merely received first orders, (Acts xiii. 2.) form in the former version an argument against presbyters' right to ordain, and in the latter one in favour of that practice." As a further accommodation, he says the word elders was substituted for presbyters, &c. "Independency in the very nature of it is schism; for every congregation is a different church." (Sherl. Def. of Stillingfl.)

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[1] Ver. 28. Maledixerunt, eloidoresan, reviled, rather than cursed.


Bible Text & Cross-references:

He gives sight to the man born blind.

1 And Jesus passing by, saw a man that was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?

3 Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, whilst it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and spread the clay upon his eyes;

7 And said to him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloe, (which is interpreted, Sent). He went, therefore, and washed, and he came seeing.

8 The neighbours, therefore, and they who had seen him before that he was a beggar, said: Is not this he that sat, and begged? Some said: This is he.

9 But others, No: but he is like him. But he said: I am he.

10 They said, therefore, to him: How were thy eyes opened?

11 He answered: That man who is called Jesus, made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me; Go to the pool of Siloe, and wash. And I went, I washed, and I see.

12 And they said to him: Where is he? He saith; I know not.

13 They bring him that had been blind, to the Pharisees.

14 Now it was the Sabbath, when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

15 Again, therefore, the Pharisees asked him how he had received his sight. But he said to them: He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I see.

16 Some, therefore, of the Pharisees said; This man is not of God, who keepeth not the sabbath. But others said; How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

17 They say, therefore, to the blind man again; What sayest thou of him that hath opened thy eyes? And he said; He is a prophet.

18 The Jews then did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight:

19 And asked them, saying; Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then doth he now see?

20 His parents answered them, and said: We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

21 But how he now seeth, we know not: or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself; he is of age; let him speak for himself.

22 These things his parents said, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had already agreed among themselves, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

23 Therefore did his parents say; He is of age; ask himself.

24 They, therefore, called the man again that had been blind, and said to him: Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.

25 He said then to them; If he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.

26 Then they said to him; What did he to thee? how did he open thy eyes?

27 He answered them: I have told you already, and you have heard: why would you hear it again? will you also become his disciples?

28 They reviled him, therefore, and said; Be thou his disciple: but we are the disciples of Moses.

29 We know that God spoke to Moses: but as to this man, we know not from whence he is.

30 The man answered, and said to them; Why herein is a wonderful thing, that you know not from whence he is, and he hath opened my eyes:

31 Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a worshipper of God, and doth his will, him he heareth.

32 From the beginning of the world it hath not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind.

33 Unless this man were of God, he could not do any thing.

34 They answered, and said to him: Thou wast wholly born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said to him; Dost thou believe in the Son of God?

36 He answered, and said: Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?

37 And Jesus said to him; Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee.

38 And he said; I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him.

39 And Jesus said; For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not, may see, and they who see, may become blind.

40 And some of the Pharisees, that were with him, heard: and they said to him; Are we also blind?

41 Jesus said to them; If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say, We see; Your sin remaineth.