4th Sunday of Lent
Reading I I Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Reading II Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel John 9:1-41
This weekend we celebrate Laetare Sunday. Laetare means to rejoice. Why are we rejoicing? Well, we are rejoicing because we are half way through lent. In just a few weeks we will celebrate the greatest of all feasts, the feast of the resurrection.
Our readings today talk to us about light and darkness. Our Gospel talks to us about physical and spiritual sight, and our Gospel talks to us about faith. What I want you to do is close your eyes. Pretend that you are that blind man, but realize that you have an advantage. Because when you close your eyes and I mention a bird, in your mind you can see a bird. If you were born blind, you don’t see anything but darkness. The only thing that you might be able to see is if someone describes something to you, you can imagine an image. But other than that you cannot see anything.
You can’t see the sun rise and set, you can’t see a rainbow. You can’t see a bird, you can’t see your parents, you do not see anything. Blindness is a very difficult thing. Please open your eyes. We are all blessed because we can see. We may not all have 20-20 vision, but we can see well enough. In the Gospel today we have a man who was born blind. Worse than that, the belief at the time was that if you had a disease or illness, it was because you sinned or your parents had sinned.
So as Jesus was walking he saw this man and his disciples said to him, “Who sinned that he was made blind? Was it him, or his parents?” Jesus made it very, very clear to them that it wasn’t this man, and it wasn’t his parents. It was to give glory to God. Yet, the man knew how many steps he needed to take to go to the place where he was going to beg that day. He would beg every day for enough to eat. Think about that. He, himself, probably thought he was a sinner or that his parents had sinned.
So Jesus says to the blind man, “Stand up.” And he does. Jesus then spits on the ground, and the man cannot see this but can hear something. Jesus makes a potion and says to the man, “Can I put this mud on your eyes?” Now if you were the blind person, how would you feel about that? How many of you would believe this man Jesus? Maybe you had heard his name but that’s all. How many of you would say, “Yes. Put it on my eyes.” How many of you would do that? How many of you would think that if he put the mud on your eyes there would at least be a hope and chance that it would do some good? And how many of you would take that chance? He did. The blind man took that chance and people took him to the pool at Siloam and guess what, he could see. Think about it. If you are totally blind from birth, you have never seen anything and now all of a sudden you open your eyes and, “My gosh, I can see. I have heard my parents speak but I have never seen their faces.” Think how happy he must have been. We don’t know for sure but he probably first ran home to see what his parents really looked like.
But unfortunately, was the community happy that he could see? Or were they sad? Again, we are not talking about the whole community. But at least the Pharisees didn’t like it. They didn’t like it, number one, because this man Jesus, whoever he is, did something on the Sabbath that he shouldn’t have done — he worked. Plus, they didn’t like who the blind man was anyway so they continued to call this man back and eventually kicked him out of the temple.
Then Jesus finds him and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And the blind man says, “Show me who he is and I’ll believe and worship.” Just like last week the woman at the well — she didn’t know Jesus from anyone. As we listen to that story — what happens? She knows that Jesus was a Jew. Then she says Jesus was a prophet. Then eventually the woman at the well says, “You are the Messiah.”
We see the same thing today. The blind man saw this man Jesus and when the Pharisees asked the blind man what happened he said, “A man named Jesus cured me.” When they kept asking, the blind man said, “This man Jesus was a prophet.” And then Jesus said to him, “I am the Messiah.”
The Gospel is really not about physical sight, but rather spiritual sight. Most of us have fairly good physical sight and with glasses or contacts we can see what we need to see. But how is our spiritual sight? What is spiritual sight? Spiritual sight is being able to see Jesus for who he is, to see God for who he is, and to make God a part of us so that as we live our life that we see the world through the eyes of Jesus. Are we always able to do that? I would guess if we look at ourselves, and if I look at myself, I don’t always have 20-20 spiritual vision. Sometimes my vision may be zero. If we look at history and look at Hitler, did Hitler have 20-20 spiritual vision? Far from it. He never saw the beauty of God in the Jewish people. He never saw the beauty of God in lots of things.
On the other hand, if we look at Mother Teresa what kind of spiritual vision did she have — being able to work with the poor and seeing the poor as God’s creatures. That’s what we are all called to do. We are called to have as close to 20-20 vision as we can in spirituality and to have so much faith in God that we can look around and see God everywhere. We can see him in the sunrise, we can see him in each other, we can see him in a rainbow, we can see him in a little girl. That’s what it’s about.
Today, in a minute or two, the candidates and catechumens will come forward and they will receive the second scrutiny. They will be prayed over by Father Adam and the congregation, prayed over to help them have spiritual sight. Last week in the first scrutiny they were talking about the living water that only God can give and how in a few weeks catechumens will receive that living water which will bring about eternal life —a water that will never, never end.
And today we pray, that they, and us, have spiritual sight and that we continue to grow so that we have God not just in our minds, but that we have him in our hearts and more importantly, in our actions to one another. So in a few minutes, Austin, Randy and Kristy — the catechumens, and Chris and Devin and Kody and Phyllis— the candidates, will come forward and we will pray for them, but we also pray for each other that we continually work for spiritual sightedness and that we continue to grow in faith.
I am going to end this morning with a poem and as I read this poem it talks about a child, but I want you to think the child is each and everyone of us. So when I say, “child” I am talking about you, and I am talking about me. We can think that we have 20-20 spiritual vision, but at the end of the day when we pray there are many things that we have missed and lost because of time.
A child whispered, ‘God speak to me’ and the meadowlark sang. But the child did not hear.
So the child yelled, ‘God speak to me’ and the thunder rolled across the sky. But the child did not listen.
The child looked around and said, ‘God let me see you’ and a bright star shown in the sky but the child did not notice.
And the child shouted, ‘God show me a miracle’ and a child was born but the child did not know.
So the child cried out in despair, ‘God touch me so I know that you are here’ whereupon God reached down and touched the child. But the child brushed the butterfly away and walked away unknowing.
This week let us have our eyes and ears open to all the wondrous things that God has given us. What are we not seeing that God is trying to show us? Let us increase our spiritual sight to see God and the many miracles that are going on around us —
especially, let us see God in one of them.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0035)