Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A
Readings: 1 Sam 16:1,6-7,10-13; Eph. 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
Light and darkness, sight and blindness are the contrasting images in the readings of this Sunday, also called Laetare Sunday – Rejoice Sunday. We pause to rejoice and give thanks to God for the many blessings of this season so far. We are grateful for the Lenten Mission and the Sacrament of Reconciliation just celebrated in our parish. The response was tremendous. That is why we need to rejoice. The Good News this Sunday is that Christ heals our spiritual blindness and makes us witnesses of the truth. That is the meaning of the second Scrutiny celebrated this Sunday for those preparing for Baptism at Easter. The celebrant prays over the Candidates and anoints them with Holy Oil in a rite of exorcism that symbolically restores their spiritual sight so that they begin to see as Jesus sees, and to follow him like the man born blind in the Gospel. For those already Baptized, Christ renews our vision as it were from 10/10 to 20/20 vision, so that we can begin to see as God sees (cf. 1 Sam 16:7). The entire liturgy therefore celebrates the mystery of Christ - the light of the world; the light that dispels the darkness of our minds and our hearts. We joyfully celebrate Christ who heals our spiritual blindness. The three readings help us to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness; spiritual sight and spiritual blindness.
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. Here we meet a blind man with sight as compared to the intellectual Pharisees who are blind to the message of Christ. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism illuminates us to see and embrace God’s vision, life, goodness and truth. Our Baptism commits us to be bearers of the truth and to confront the spiritual blindness of the world with the truth. 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 identity 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. The story is not just about the healing of the man born blind and the Pharisee refusing to accept the power of Christ to perform such a miracle. Rather, the story is about you and I in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. The message we take home is threefold: 1) The Good News is that Christ has healed our blindness 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) Jesus heals our blindness so see as He sees. Like the blind man we have been healed and have become fearless disciples ready to give our time, talent and treasure in witness to Jesus Christ. We are prepared to take the light of Christ wherever we are, even in times of opposition. 3) We have been strengthened in the celebration of the Eucharist. As faithful disciples we must not allow dishonesty and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light.
©2014 John S. Mbinda