Gospel and Homily for 4th Sunday in Lent, Cycle A

posted Mar 21, 2020, 7:15 AM by Michelle Massung   [ updated Mar 21, 2020, 7:15 AM ]

Gospel Jn 9:1-41 Or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38


As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, 
that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered,
"Neither he nor his parents sinned; 
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him, 
"Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, 
"Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?"
Some said, "It is, "
but others said, "No, he just looks like him."
He said, "I am."
So they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?"
He replied,
"The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.'
So I went there and washed and was able to see."
And they said to him, "Where is he?"
He said, "I don't know."

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
"He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see."
So some of the Pharisees said,
"This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath."
But others said,
"How can a sinful man do such signs?"
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, 
"What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?"
He said, "He is a prophet."

Now the Jews did not believe 
that he had been blind and gained his sight 
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
"Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?"
His parents answered and said, 
"We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself."
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed 
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
"He is of age; question him."

So a second time they called the man who had been blind 
and said to him, "Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner."
He replied,
"If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see."
So they said to him,
"What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?"
He answered them,
"I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
They ridiculed him and said, 
"You are that man's disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses, 
but we do not know where this one is from."
The man answered and said to them,
"This is what is so amazing, 
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners, 
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything."
They answered and said to him,
"You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?"
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
He answered and said, 
"Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
Jesus said to him,
"You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he."
He said,
"I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
"I came into this world for judgment, 
so that those who do not see might see, 
and those who do see might become blind."

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this 
and said to him, "Surely we are not also blind, are we?"
Jesus said to them,
"If you were blind, you would have no sin; 
but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

            As a way of getting started today, I want each of you to close your eyes and picture in your mind a beautiful scene that you have experienced sometime during your life.  Maybe it is a sunset on the beach, or snow capped mountains, a beautiful field of flowers, or a gorgeous young lady that you care for very much.   Whatever the image, I want you to really see the beauty of that picture in your mind and how the hand of God helped to make that possible.  Ok, now you can open your eyes.  What did it take for you to see that image or picture?  First, it took your ability to see, the gift of eyesight God gave to you when you were born.  You also had to be in a position to see the sight.  What I mean is that in order for you to see the beautiful sunset at the beach, you had to be at the beach during the time the sun was setting. Or to see the snowcapped mountains, you needed to be at the base of the mountain range. Or the field of flowers, you had to be near that field.  My point is that not only do you need to be able to physically see, you have to put yourself in a position to observe the beautiful scenery or the person.  It is not enough for us to be able to physically able to see, we have to stop and observe the beauty of God’s creative glory. 

            In a similar way, the blind man that is being cured today also had to be in position for Jesus to heal him.  Whether or not he wanted to be cured is not really important to the story.  What is important is that he was given the ability to see just like we are.  However, in his new found vision, he uses this gift as a way of becoming a disciple of Jesus and not just for his own benefit and glory.  Let me explain in more detail. In the Jewish tradition, the man born blind is believed to be born blind because of either his sins or the sins of his parents.  We as Catholics believe that we are born in the state of sin from the sins of Adam and Eve and that these sins have been wiped away during our Baptism.  As a result, we can see that Christ as our savior in the same manner that the blind man can now see Jesus as the Son of God. 

            The clay that Jesus makes to cure the blind man is a reminder that God created mankind out of clay.  We hear this in the creation story and John wants to remind us that once we have encountered Christ in our lives and make him the focus of our spiritual vision, we too are recreated in a life in Christ.  The blind man’s parents are questioned because the Pharisees accuse them of being sinful in their own lives and as a result, their son is born blind.  Also, since the blind man agreed to be cured on the Sabbath, he is going to be expelled from the Jewish Temple.  His parents do not want to be expelled so they claim that he is old enough to make his own decisions. 

            The Pharisees are blinded by their own righteousness and do not see the love that Jesus is extending to the blind man.  They are more focused on obeying the laws of the Temple to see the act of charity that Jesus extends to the blind man.  Also, as the story progresses, the man starts to see Jesus more clearly as the Son of God.  He first calls him Jesus, then a prophet, and then a man of God and then the Son of God. Is not our procession in our own faith journey similar to this man’s short journey in his belief in Jesus as the Son of God? He sees Jesus, not just as a human, but rather, as God does, His beloved Son. 

            So how can we see the world, not as a human would, but as God does?  Let me use the example of seeing a beautiful young lady. If I see her as a human, my tendency is to focus on her outer beauty. As much as I would delight in this image of her, God focuses more on her inner beauty; how she loves and cares for others, her kindness and compassion, her true ability to bring joy to others just by her presence in their midst. If I truly want to "see" her, I need to focus on these attributes and not just her outer beauty. By doing so, I can appreciate her in a deeper and more profound way than if I only focused on her outer beauty. 

            So who are we in this story, the blind man or the Pharisees? When we were born, we were born into a state of spiritual blindness because of the stain of original sin.  It is only after we are baptized that our eyes are open to the truth about God and Jesus. It is this gift of sight that we are most thankful for in our lives.  Yet, as we go through life, at times we are like the Pharisees in the story and lose our sight by our sinfulness.  For example, we are blinded by the sins of pride, greed, envy, jealousy and many other sins in our lives.  It is then that we need to encounter Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation.  It is there that our spiritual sight is restored and we can see clearly the Lord and our neighbor.  But how can we prevent ourselves from going blind by sin?  By letting Jesus guide us throughout our lives and not try to go through life on our own.  Left to our devices, we stumble and fall like someone blind.  By praying, reading the scriptures, and helping others in need, we follow the lead of Jesus and can navigate through the world much easier than if we do it on our own.  When was the last time you sat down and read the Bible?  It is a great source of peace and consolation.  When I feel stressed or really overcome by temptation, I sit quietly and read from the Gospel passages.  There was a popular movement many years ago that coined the phrase WWJD, what would Jesus do?  Well in order to know what Jesus would do, you have to know what he did by reading the scriptures.  This week, we continue our Lenten journey.  Bring Jesus along to guide us along the way by spending time reading about his life in the Gospels.  This way, you will not be blinded by sin and will avoid the temptations of sin.  May God continue to bless you on your journey.

 

 

 

Sincerely in Christ,

 

Fr. John Gibbons

814-935-3349

 

'Life is not a race - but indeed a journey. Be Honest. Work Hard. Be Choosy. Say 'thank you', and 'great job' to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you've been given, it is not accidental ~ search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you inspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself ~ Plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you've been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment.

Bonnie Mohr

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