|Blind Man Washes at Siloam by James Tissot|
Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)
(Audio for homily)
So much arguing back and forth about how this man, blind from birth,
-- came to see.
It’s clear that many of the people, most of the Pharisees
and even the man’s parents don’t quite get the point here.
So let’s hope that we do.
This story is not primarily about the healing of this man’s blindness.
Rather, it’s about the light by which any of us
might come to see and to know the truth.
Jesus gives it away at the beginning by telling us he’s
“the light of the world.”
Apart from the light he brings, we are in darkness,
apart from his light we cannot find or see or know
the fullness of truth.
Some 2,000 years after Jesus spat on the ground
and made a mud paste to smear on this man’s eyes,
the Pharisees’ question is now ours:
do we see or are we blind?
Are we in the light or in the darkness?
A way of getting at this might be for each of us to ask ourselves:
By what light do I see?
By what light do I observe life: my life and the life of the world?
By what light do I discern the difference between
true and false? good and evil? between the real and fantasy?
By what light do I make my most important decisions and choices ?
By what light do I raise my family? do my job? cast a vote?
By what light do I find God in my life?
By what light do I find the hope and trust
to go from day to day to day?
By what light do I see?
The Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus was saying
and were convinced they were blind to nothing.
But Jesus is clear that they were blind.
Certainly, they didn’t see as God sees.
At best they saw the appearance of things
but they didn’t have the light, the vision they needed to see into heart.
The Pharisees were so blinded by the Sabbath law
that they failed to see the blind man’s sight
for the gift it was, for the joy it was --
and they failed to recognize the light of the One who healed him.
Do we see as God sees?
Do we see our lives and the lives of others as God sees them?
Do we see through the eye of God’s wisdom
or are we content to see through the media’s eyes
and let the press and news shape what we see and how we see it?
Do we see through the eye of God’s compassion
or do we see through eyes of portfolios and profit margins?
Do we see through the eye of God’s love
or do we see through eyes clouded with prejudice and self-interest?
Can I acknowledge that, indeed, my own eyes might lie to me?
Does my inner vision need the corrective lenses of
God’s word? the Church’s wisdom? a truth greater than my own?
Our culture supports the notion that each individual’s sight is infallible,
that whatever anyone of us perceives to be true -- is true.
It’s a danger for us all when such a point of view
threatens good order with chaos and darkness.
The scriptures today call us out of our own darkness
and into the light of the Lord.
They call us to see beyond the appearance of things and into the heart:
to peer through the eyes of God;
to refract what we see through the prism of God’s word;
to color our vision with the wisdom of tradition and truth.
And therein lies the cure
for the blindness we often fail to see in ourselves.
Lent is half over, we are half way to Easter,
and all of this is food for thought the season when,
through prayer, fasting and works of mercy,
we try to strip away the illusions we have about ourselves
and draw closer to the truth and its light.
We are here for the Sabbath and it was on the Sabbath
that Jesus made the mud paste for healing the man born blind.
Here, he gives us much more than his saliva:
he gives us his life, his body and blood.
As once he gave it in the sacrifice of the Cross
so now he gives it the sacrament of this table.
Here he gathers us that we might see
not just the appearance of bread and wine,
but see into the heart of these gifts
and find there Jesus, the Light of the world.
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