Refusing the Name: Further Thoughts on Today’s Gospel

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Just another thought on today’s Gospel, drawing on the late, great, Raymond Brown and the series of records lectures he gave regarding the Gospel of John.

I read the long form of the Gospel today – it’s really the only way the true character of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind receives its full texture because there is a dynamic at work here: the blind man increases in sight, while the Pharisees grow blinder.  One of the most fascinating elements of this Gospel is that the Pharisees refuse to name Jesus: he is always “that one,” or something like that.  Ray Brown suggested that it takes on the character of a circumlocution, that is to say, calling him “that fellow,” because it was better if Jesus’ name was not said out loud.

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, think “he who shall not be named.”

For me, this seems to be a point for conversion — how often do I refuse to name someone, or something, in an effort to gain control over it?  Or, perhaps even more problematically, what are those ways  in which I refuse others the dignity of their names in order to protect my own self?

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