A Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Lent
Sunday, March 19, 2023
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6; Ephesians Eph 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
- Today’s gospel is a long one, isn’t it? There’s a lot going on here. It’s MUCH MORE than a story of a PHYSICAL MIRACLE of Jesus giving a blind man his sight. It’s about how all of us need to be healed of our SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS. Let’s take a look.
- The story begins with the important detail that this man has been blind since birth. It was a common misconception at that time that such a birth defect would have been caused by the sins of the parents.
- Jesus makes it clear that this was not the case; this man’s blindness was a result of the natural disorder experienced by humanity as a result of original sin. If Adam and Eve had never been cast out of the Garden of Eden, disease and natural disorders would have never existed.
- For this reason, we should understand that we are all “born blind” in the sense that we were born into the state of original sin and are, therefore, in need of the grace of spiritual sight.
- The world is essentially divided into two groups of people: those who know they’re spiritually blind and ask for illumination and healing from Jesus, and those who refuse to admit they’re blind. You might say they are blind to being blind (Is 29:9).
- Jesus said: “I came into this world to divide it, to make the sightless see and the seeing blind” (Jn 9:39). Like the Pharisees, so many people take offense at being called blind.
- For those of us who do see, even if imperfectly, our spiritual sight was restored when we were reborn in the waters of Baptism. Nevertheless, we continue to have eye problems because of our sins, which originally caused our spiritual blindness. We keep bumping into things, crashing into brick walls, and having terrible accidents. What does it take to wake us up to reality?
- The answer is simple: like the blind man in today’s gospel we must encounter the person of Jesus Christ. And after encountering him we must ask him to increase our faith as we continue to grow in relationship with him by recognizing our sins, confessing them, developing a daily prayer life and encountering him in the sacraments and in our neighbors.
- The first step in growing in our relationship with Christ is to realize that we are spiritually blind and to be honest about our sinfulness. Then, like the blind man who Jesus sent to the Pool of Siloam to wash the mud from his eyes, we too must be washed clean in order for our spiritual vision to be restored.
- This happens in the confessional, where we encounter Christ, we are honest with him about our failings, and he restores us to perfect friendship with him. Like the blind man in today’s gospel, when we make a good confession, when we go off and wash, we come back able to see.
- After Christ healed the blind man, the Pharisees had trouble recognizing him: “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” The work of Christ in us, which heals and converts us, is a transformative work that can change the way others perceive us. It actually changes the way others see us!
- The season of Lent is the perfect time to allow the Lord to perfect this transformation in us, but it can come at a cost. People who think they know us might be tempted to criticize us for our Lenten fasts or mortifications, claiming we’re no longer the same person. Are we willing to endure this criticism if it means transformation into Christ?
- The transformation that Christ worked in the blind man had serious repercussions for him: people didn’t recognize him, and his own parents distanced themselves from him when they were questioned about him by the religious authorities. “He is of age; question him,” his parents said.
- His parents didn’t support him because they were afraid of being thrown out of the synagogue if they did. How many of us today don’t stand up publicly for what we know to be true because we’re afraid that it might not be politically correct? Because we’re afraid that our so-called friends and business associates will cancel us for doing so.
- However, he was forsaken by Jesus, who approached him and revealed himself to be the Son of Man. For the ex-blind man, the words of Psalm 27 came true: “Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in” (Psalms 27:10). We need faith to seek out Christ when friends and family seem to misunderstand or reject us.
- As he experiences rejection by his family and is challenged by the Pharisees, the formerly blind man deepens and clarifies his convictions, ending in the deepest faith when he cries out to Jesus, “I do believe, Lord” and then he worships Jesus.
- When we are challenged to stand up for our faith we have a choice to make. We can either be silent and let the accusations and hatred of those who remain in spiritual blindness go unchallenged, or we can speak up and defend our faith, even when it is not fully mature.
- Like the blind man when asked how his eyes were opened we can all say “the man called Jesus healed me. He told me what to do, I did what he said and was able to see.” We don’t have to be experts in apologetics or biblical studies to be effective witnesses to the healing that God has worked in our lives.
- So, brothers and sisters in Christ, will we choose today the blessings that come from a true desire to grow in our spiritual vision by recognizing and confessing our sins, encountering him daily in private prayer, receiving the sacraments regularly, being willing to endure the persecution that inevitably comes from our relationship with Christ, and to never back away from any opportunity we have to share our faith with others?
- This is our duty and our privilege as Christians. This is how we increase the clarity of our spiritual sight and grow in faith.
Let us pray. Jesus, Light of the World, You came to dispel the darkness caused by original sin. You came to heal our blindness and open the eyes of our souls to Your true Light. Please open my eyes so that I may see, and give me the courage I need to profess my faith in You and to worship You with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You. In the name of the Father…
Happy Laetare Sunday. God bless you.