Homily for 4th Sunday in Lent, Cycle A-2017

posted Mar 24, 2017, 11:17 AM by Church Office   [ updated Mar 24, 2017, 11:17 AM by Michelle Massung ]

            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 theTemple 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.