4th Sunday of Lent, Year A
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
March 26, 2017
Saul has turned out to be a bad king so God sends Samuel to anoint his successor. Kings were government leaders but they were also leaders in battle. So, when looking for a king you would want someone who has the experience to lead and is strong for battle.
The Lord sends Samuel to the house of Jesse who brings forth his sons. They are impressive in appearance and the oldest are experienced but the Lord does not choose any of them. The Lord chooses the youngest, David, to be the new king. He is young but he is the one chosen by God for “the LORD looks into the heart.”
Now, we turn to the story of the man born blind. Jesus is able to give the man physical sight in just the first seven verses but the story continues for another 34 verses.
The fact that Jesus gives sight to the man who was born blind serves as a sign to who Jesus is but to understand the sign one must be open to seeing as God sees.
Before Jesus gives the man sight, Jesus’ disciples ask him, “who sinned, this man or his parents.” They asked the question because their belief was that blindness (and any other major illness) was punishment for sin. Jesus answers that neither sinned to cause this. The man was born blind so the works of God could be revealed through him.
The man must have been very happy to be able to see but, at first, he doesn’t see Jesus as anyone special. When people ask him, “How were your eyes opened?” he responds with “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, “Go to Siloam and wash.”
He simply refers to Jesus as “the man called Jesus” giving no indication of any recognition of Jesus as someone special. Well, maybe just a hint of it for what he calls an “anointing” is Jesus putting mud in his eyes. When I anoint someone today, it is with olive oil blessed by our bishop so that the fact that the man calls what Jesus does an “anointing” is, perhaps, the beginning of the recognition of God’s grace at work.
They take the man born blind to the Pharisees who say that Jesus is not from God because he heals on the Sabbath. This gets the man thinking about Jesus and what he has done. As he thinks he comes to say about Jesus, “He is a prophet.”
They continue their questioning, continuing to identify Jesus as a sinner. They are supposed to be experts in divine matters but they fall far short here. It is the man born blind who comes to say, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” He comes to recognize his gift of sight as a sign from God and that has to count for something.
They continue to reject Jesus saying, “We do not know where this one is from.” The man replies, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.” To him, it has become obvious where Jesus must be from, God.
Later, the man encounters Jesus and comes to believe that He is the “Son of Man”, the one they have been waiting for.
Ironically it is because of the Pharisees’ refusal to believe that Jesus comes from God that the man comes to know that Jesus is the Messiah. They had closed hearts but the man born blind had an open heart and came to see who Jesus is. They saw only his humanity. He saw Jesus’ divinity. He allowed Jesus to open his eyes not just physically but spiritually. Do we?
Think of it this way. Our responsorial psalm today comes from the 23rd Psalm. Our sung response comes from the first verse, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”
One who sees in terms of things might take “there is nothing I shall want” to mean that God will give us whatever we want so that we have everything and, thus, no longer want. Of course, that is not what is meant here. Rather, I believe that true faith in God will change what we “want.” God does provide for our needs but not all our wants. Rather, if we open our hearts, God will change what is in our hearts so that we realize that we do not need all the things we want such that we no longer desire them.
This means coming to see as God sees.