Friday, March 13, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B: Option 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 that help to focus of the central message of this Sunday. The key message is that Christ transforms our spiritual blindness in Baptism and makes us witnesses of the truth. That is the meaning of the second Scrutiny celebrated this Sunday for those preparing for the Easter Sacraments. 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 Jesus and to follow him like the man born blind in the Gospel. The second scrutiny symbolically restores the spiritual sight of the catechumens, so that they can see Jesus and follow him. For those already Baptized, Christ transforms 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 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 who heals our spiritual blindness. The three readings help to see a sharp contrast between light and darkness; spiritual sight and spiritual blindness. In the first reading, Samuel struggles as it were in darkness, trying to find a king, but can only succeed to find the young David 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 the light, for the effects of light are seen in goodness, right living and 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. Here we meet a blind man with spiritual sight as compared to the intellectual Pharisees who are spiritually blind. The Gospel reminds us that our Baptism transforms us to see and embrace God’s vision, mission and purpose. Our Baptism commits us to be faithful 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 gospel story, Jesus not only gives the blind man his sight, physical light, but he also gives him the light of faith – spiritual sight. Furthermore, Jesus leads the blind man to a confession of faith by asking him if he knows the Son of Man. The blind man responds, “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 gospel story is also about you and me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. In our own human weakness, vices take hold of us and we become spiritually blind. The message we take home this Sunday is threefold: 1) Christ has transformed our spiritual blindness and given us the light of faith, so we may proclaim Christ boldly despite opposition from those still in darkness. 2) As disciples and stewards we are challenged to be the light of Christ wherever we are, even in times of opposition. 3) Just as in the Gospel story, we must not allow relativism and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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