posted on March 10, 2013 18:05
Homily: Deacon Terry Ellerman
Blessed Sacrament Parish
March 10, 2013 - 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday
10 AM Service
Why do we come to church? We come to church so that we can praise God. We come to church so that we can thank Him for everything that He has given us. We come to church to find out more about Jesus and who he is and what he wants us to do. We listen to the Scriptures being proclaimed - all this to know more about Jesus and how we are to live our lives.
We then come to this altar to receive the real body and blood of Jesus Christ.
We take it into us so we can be nourished and fed and to receive his graces, and so we can live the next week with Christ with us and in us. We come to this church as individuals and families, but we come to praise God as a family and as a community of believers. We are called to be Christ to one another, and we are called to see Christ in each other.
We have a marvelous Gospel today which talks about physical blindness and spiritual blindness. We see Jesus coming into town with his disciples and here is the blind man begging as he always did. The blind man didn't know Jesus. He probably had heard of him, but didn't know him.
The disciples asked, “Jesus, did he sin, or did his parents sin, and that is why he is blind?” It was a belief at that time if you had any ailment, whether you were blind or deaf or had a skin rash or whatever, there was sin involved somewhere that was committed by either you or your parents.
Jesus makes it very clear, “No, no, no, no, no.” He may be blind, but he is blind so we can show the honor and glory of God. But he is not blind because of anything he or his parents did.
Then what did Jesus do? He goes over and talks to the blind man, spits on the ground, mixes that spit with dirt and mud, puts the mixture on his eyes and tells him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash it off. And he says, “If you do that you will be able to see.”
First of all, it would be interesting if we were in that position and someone came up to us and said, “I'm going to put mud on your eyes. Is that all right? And you are going to see.”
Some may say, “I don't want any of that.”
But most of us would say, “It's worth a chance. If doing this means I might be able to see, then that's what I will do.”
The evangelist John is a marvelous writer. He uses all sorts of symbols. One of the symbols is in the saliva - the spit; that shows Jesus's divinity and his healing powers. The dirt shows Jesus's humanity. The blind man's going to the pool of Siloam is representative of baptism.
The interesting thing about this reading is to acknowledge that each one of us is the blind man. It's interesting to see the transformation and the change that the blind man made. After he was cured, people asked him what happened and he said, “This Jesus cured me.” Notice the progression in his thought and thinking because later he says, “This prophet, Jesus, is the one who cured me.”
At the end Jesus says, “Do you believe in the Messiah?” The blind man says, “Tell me who he is and I will believe.” Jesus says, “It's me.” Immediately the blind man goes down and worships him. He was physically blind, and before he was given his sight he was also spiritually blind and not a man of faith. But did he become a man of faith? Yes.
In last week's reading about the woman at the well the same thing happens. Jesus talks to her about the living water and again she has a transformation, a transformation from being a person of little or no faith to becoming a person of great faith.
These readings are used during this season. Actually, we are in season C but we are using A because of the catechumens and candidates. In a couple of minutes they will do the scrutinies. This particular Gospel about the blind man is used because it is vivid in telling the catechumens and candidates, and us, to look at our vision and our own faith and ask, “Where are we in our faith?”
It won't be long until the catechumens and candidates will be coming to this living water to be baptized and brought into the faith community. They are to use the next few weeks to examine and scrutinize themselves and ask, “What do I need to do to be as spiritually clear as I can be? What can I do to become closer to Christ so that when I go into that font I am ready to receive Christ into my life and into my heart?”
This weekend, as Father Mike said, we are blessed to have ten engaged couples here who are going to be getting married this year. They spent twelve hours yesterday and ten hours today looking at marriage and at all the issues that pertain to marriage. Some of those topics will be finances, sexuality, communication with each other and God. They explore all those things so they can learn to match their visions, and to realize that we all are in a love relationship with God, or at least should be. They learn that if God so loved us that he made us, then God also so loves us so that we have the ability to love, and to show that love to one another.
So this week, on Laetare Sunday, we are half way there until we celebrate together the great feast of Easter, the feast of hope.
Where are we in terms of ourselves? Most of us can see physically pretty well. But where are we in terms of seeing spiritually? To have spiritual insight means that we see life through the eyes of Christ which means that we have so much of Christ in ourselves that we can respond to each other as Jesus would have us respond. That is a goal.
If we want physical good sight we need carrots and green things to eat. If we want good spiritual sight then we need to have God in our heart and that is why we come to church. You come to church to sharpen your vision and to bring your relationship to God so that, week to week, we can truly be Christ to one anther.
So why do we come to church? To praise God, to find out who He is through the Scriptures, to receive Him into our bodies through communion, and to enjoy each other and to get to know one another. So when Jim talks about the St. Boniface dinner, or helping with Pre-Cana, or RCIA, stewardship is really what we need to do. If we want to have spiritual vision, we need to know each other and come to praise God for ourselves, and for each other.
Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.