March 14: Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A (Second Scrutiny)
Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Eph. 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
The optional readings of Year A (for the Second Scrutiny) make use of several concrete images: anointing with oil, light dispelling darkness and a blind man’s sight restored. These images lead us to the central message of the readings, namely that in our Baptism, Christ heals our spiritual blindness. That is the purpose of the second scrutiny for the catechumens, which consists of an exorcism that symbolically restores the sense of sight for the catechumens, so that they can start to see Christ and follow him. The verse before the Gospel introduces the central point of our celebration. "I am the light of the world, anyone who follows me will have the light of life" (John 8:12). The entire liturgy therefore celebrates the mystery of Christ - the light of the world; the light that dispels the darkness of our minds and hearts. We celebrate Christ who heals our blindness. The three readings help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness. In the first reading, Samuel struggles as it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but can only succeed when he begins to see as God sees. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, but now because of our Baptism we are light in the Lord. We are therefore challenged to be children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in goodness, in right living and in truth.
The story of the man born blind in the Gospel is not so much about the man being healed, but about seeing as God sees. The Gospel reminds us that we are committed to a life that reveals God’s vision, to a life of constant conversion. The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the refusal to accept the truth. The passage leads to a controversy with the Pharisees. Because they are in the darkness of their own prejudice, they refuse to recognize Jesus as the messiah; they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus has the power to heal the blind man. The blind man gives Jesus the opportunity to show forth once again his own true divine nature for all to see and believe. In the story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith. When Jesus asks the blind man if he knows the Son of Man, he says, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus says to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” The man then says, “I do believe, Lord.” On the other hand, the Pharisees, because of their prejudice, are totally blind to Christ and even attribute his miracle to Satan. They even throw the man born blind out of the temple, because he claims his sight to have been restored by Christ. There is a deep lesson to learn in this story. The message we take home may be summed up in several points: 1) In baptism, Christ has healed us and given us the light of faith, so that, like the healed blind man, we may proclaim Christ boldly despite the opposition from those still in darkness. 2) Just the blind man after being healed by Jesus began to witness to Christ, we too are challenged to spread the light of Christ wherever we are, even in times of opposition. 3) Just as in the Gospel story, we must not allow dishonesty and distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light.
©2008 John S. Mbinda