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4th Sunday of Lent, Year A – Homily

For those unable to attend Mass this Sunday, here are some helpful links before sharing my homily:

4th Sunday of Lent, Year A
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 (1)
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41
March 22, 2020

While we are not able to come together for Mass this Sunday because of the Coronavirus, it is still good for us to reflect on the readings for Mass.

This Sunday’s gospel tells the story of “The Man Born Blind.”  The healing of the blind man is the sixth of seven great signs done by Jesus as told in the Gospel of John.  These signs are miracles and good for the people in the stories.  They also help us to know who Jesus is, that the power of God is at work through him.

When the disciples see the man born blind, they ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  To understand their question we must remember how they saw illness and infirmity in those days.  It was seen as punishment for sin. 

So, noting the man’s blindness, Jesus’ disciples assume a sin has been committed.  Jesus helps them to see things in a new way, saying, “it is so that works of God might be made visible through him.”

Jesus speaks of “day” and “night”.  He identifies himself as “the light of the world.”  He brings light to the blind man by giving him his sight. 

At first, when the man is able to see, he sees what has happened only in physical terms.  When he is asked how his eyes were opened, he replies by saying that Jesus made clay and anointed his eyes and he then washed in the Pool of Simeon.

Next, the Pharisees become part of the story.  When they hear what has happened, they miss the importance of the miracle and focus on the fact that Jesus did this on a Sabbath, breaking the law against doing work on the Sabbath.  Stuck in seeing the world in their terms, they fail to see the sign.

But there are others who are open to seeing something more who ask, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” 

Meanwhile, through the dialogue the man born blind moves from seeing what has happened only in physical terms to proclaiming that Jesus is a prophet. 

He doesn’t know who Jesus is.  He doesn’t know if Jesus is a sinner.  What he does know is that he was blind and now he sees.  He knows that means something even if the Pharisees don’t. 

He says, “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.”  He has made a great leap in his faith.  Ultimately, he comes to know Jesus is the Son of Man.

In this passage, the disciples were led from seeing illness as punishment from sin to seeing it as a means of revealing the “works of God.” 

The blind man went from not knowing Jesus at all to knowing him as the Son of Man.

Both Jesus’ disciples and the man born blind were open to seeing things in a new way, to move from seeing the world only in human terms to seeing as God sees it.

The Pharisees in this story (not all Pharisees) were not open to seeing things different.  This made them blind to who Jesus really is.

We are living in a trying time.  The Coronavirus has changed the way we live.  One might describe what we are experiencing as living in “darkness.”  We might even fear the darkness. 

Why might we fear?  Obviously, we might fear that someone we love or even we ourselves might get the virus.  What will happen then?  The good news is that most people recover. 

We might also fear what is happening in response to the virus.  The lockdowns and empty shelves in the grocery might lead us to fear.  There is uncertainty in all of this.  We might fear what is unknown (what we can’t see). 

Do we really need to fear?  For instance, how do you see the empty shelves in the grocery store?  Now, if you need something now and can’t find it in the stores, you can be concerned about what to do.  Yet, we should remember that this virus does not mean we need more food and supplies than normal.  There is enough out there.  It is simply that people have panicked and stocked up.  One has every right to stock up within reason but please don’t hoard more than you need.  You won’t need anymore toilet paper than normal.

Of course, we each have our needs that we are concerned about.  Different people will have different things that concern them most.  I’m not going to try to name all the concerns here.  You know what yours are. 

Pray about them.  Ask God to help you know what you really need vs. what is just a “want.”  Then, ask God to “guide” you in your needs.  Ask God to help you find “restful waters.”  We may feel like we are in a “dark valley” right now but remember what the 23rd Psalm says, “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side, with your rod and your staff that give me courage.”

I end with the words that make up the Prayer over the People for the final blessing for Mass this Sunday.

“Look upon those who call to you, O Lord,
and sustain the weak;
give life by your unfailing light
to those who walk in the shadow of death,
and bring those rescued by your mercy from every evil
to reach the highest good.
Through Christ our Lord.”

2 Comments

  1. Linda Wray says:

    John and I have been watching Saturday mass online.
    Also, thank you for your blog and daily readings.
    May God continue to bless you and keep you well and safe.

  2. Fr. Jeff says:

    And may God also bless you and keep you healthy.

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