Christ the King Year A
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
Authority – we all have to exercise it at times and we all have issues with it. If that is not enough this is one issue which, across all four Gospels, Jesus addresses a number of times in a number of ways. It is important. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is commentating on the differing ways he and the religious authorities had acted in relation to the man born blind (see John 9).
The word ‘authority’ is closely aligned with the word ‘author’ which comes from the Latin word of ‘originator’. Now if we play with this word in relation to how a person exercises authority we can see two very different styles of authority.
The religious authorities of John 9 saw themselves as the only and integral interpreters of the Mosaic Law. In their eyes they were the ones who could determine what was right or not. Essentially their authority was for power over the people. This could be exercised in a benevolent way but it left itself open to awful abuse. In the imagery of this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls the authorities in John 9 ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers’ – they stole the healed man’s dignity, reputation and ultimately, they thought they could deny him his right to stand before God by expelling him from the Temple.
In contrast, see how Jesus ‘authors’ the blind man into the fullness of life. He heals him and then leaves the now-sighted man to renegotiate his place in his community: first, with the local people, then the religious authorities, then his parents. Gradually the man grows in confidence not only in understanding what has happened to him but also in who the person of Jesus is. The man, the person initially regarded as a sinner, grows in religious understanding by reflecting on his own experience. Then Jesus returns and gently leads him to that extraordinary vision: the capacity to worship in dignity. Here we see an example of the Good Shepherd leading his sheep in and out of pasture, a Shepherd leading his sheep to fullness of life.