Seeing What’s There (John 9:39)

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Formation, Reflections | 6 comments

How many times have you heard people use the phrase, “I finally woke up?” Nine out of ten times it doesn’t mean waking up from sleep but rather waking up to something you didn’t notice before, something to which you were mostly blind.

A personal example: When at the zoo, I like to visit the pond that contains the seals. I remember standing there one day when a group of youngsters came by talking to each other. Having been at that spot many times, I thought I had seen all there was to see. But then one girl talking to her friend asked her, “How do they come up out of the water so smoothly and then go back in without hardly a splash?” In all the times I had watched that same scene, I had never noticed that silky flowing smoothness. It took her eyes to open my eyes to the gracefulness of what was happening in front of me.

This gospel story of Jesus healing the blind beggar is certainly more dramatic than my story standing by that pond. But there is a carryover to everyday life, but particularly the life of a disciple of Christ. And that is the experience of waking up to something we missed by being taken into someone else’s line of vision, by looking through his or her eyes. Of course, the eyes we mean here are those of the Lord Jesus. Just after giving that blind beggar back his sight, he declares “I came so that those who do not see, might see.” He’s referring here not just to that healed man but to anyone who sets out to follow Him, anyone who lets themselves begin to see with Jesus’ eyes.

The Lord walks into the crowd that day and notices things others miss — who is hurting, who is needy, who is sorrowful, whose ears are open and whose closed up. In time His disciples begin to catch sight of what He notices, begin to see their world through His eyes. Happenings they didn’t catch come little by little into focus. Estimations of what matters and what doesn’t begin to shift because they are more and more looking out through His lenses.

Hasn’t that been the challenge put to his followers ever since; i.e., to see with his eyes, to feel with his sensibilities, to judge with his values.

A question for the Christian today:  to what extent has hearing the gospel shaped the way I look out at my world? Do I try to come before God’s Word with openness, with a willingness to let it bend my line of sight so that I see things I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed?

We hear again the words Jesus speaks in this gospel: “I came into this world so that those who don’t see, might see.” See what and notice whom? The neglected relative, the refugee family, the injustices wired into a given society, the lonely widow, the trafficked teenager, the invisible elderly — all these and more are in Jesus’ line of sight. How fitting for any member of Vincent’s family to see this very world just as Vincent did as he looked out through Christ’s eyes and spotted God’s favor showered on the poor.


  1. Sister Mary Walz

    Thank you, Tom, for an apt reflection as I begin my day!! Lord, help me keep my eyes open to recognize you in the people and events of this day!!

  2. James E Ruiz

    Thank You, I hope I can work to see, to feel and to judge as God does.

  3. Jim Claffey

    Thanks Tom for a great reminder! Timely too as Lent can be a time to re-calibrate, as in seeing anew, not noticing but seeing deeply. This is a great reflection…

  4. Nancy Katich

    Thank you, Father Tom, this reflection touched my heart and is truly a valuable reminder.

    • Tom M

      Thanks, Nancy!. Good to hear from you again!

  5. Tom Butler

    I am inspired Tom by your good words and helpful insights here. Many thanks!

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