Thursday, March 23, 2017

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 which means Rejoice Sunday. On this Sunday, we pause to rejoice and celebrate the good news that Christ heals our spiritual blindness in our Baptism, 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 Jesus 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. Such a spiritual vision leads us to rejoice because we can now almost see as God sees (cf. 1 Sam 16:7). The entire liturgy this Sunday anticipates Easter Vigil in that it celebrates the mystery of Christ - the light of the world; the light that dispels the darkness of our minds and our hearts. We celebrate Christ who heals our spiritual blindness. The three readings draw 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 learned Pharisees who are spiritually blind. 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 relativism and spiritual blindness of the world with the truth. The passage clearly contrasts light and darkness, faith and the rejection of the truth. These contrasts emerge from the 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 healing of 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 physical sight, 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 makes his profession of faith, “I do believe, Lord.” On the other hand, the Pharisees are stubbornly blind to Christ and even attribute his miracle to Satan. The story is not simply 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 me in moments of our own spiritual blindness and darkness. However, we need to focus on the Joy of the Gospel this Sunday, namely that in baptism, Christ has healed our blindness and given us the light of faith, so that, like the healed blind man, we may proclaim Him boldly despite the opposition from those still in darkness. The message we take home is threefold. 1) Jesus heals our spiritual blindness so we can see our brothers and sisters as God sees them. 2) Like the blind man, we have been healed. We have become fearless disciples, ready to give our time, talent and treasure in witness to Jesus Christ. 3) As faithful disciples, we must not allow relativism, dishonesty and the distortion of the truth to dim our light, because Christ is our Light.


©2017 John S. Mbinda

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