Homily for March 26

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

So much back and forth here
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.

Spoiler alert: 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, he tells us,
we are in darkness.
Apart from his light
we cannot find or see or know the fullness of the 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?

Some Lenten self-examination might be in order here
and might help us to understand the point of the story.
So, some questions...

When I find myself in the darkness of sin,
in the clouds of confusion, in the shadows of weakness,
by what light do I look for clarity?  
for wisdom?   for strength?

Let’s imagine with this lantern,
needing some light to make our way
through whatever darkness might be yours or mine…

• With the help of what light do I look at my own life
and the life of the world around me?

• By whose light do I try to discern the difference
between what's true and what's false?
between good and evil?
between what's real and what's fantasy?

• With the help of what light
do I make my most important decisions and choices ?

• What light, whose light
shines on how I raise my family? 
 how I live my marriage?
how I do my job?  
how I form an opinion?

• By what light do I seek and find God in my life?

• Under what light do I find the hope and trust I need
to make if from day to day to day?

• Under the scrutiny of what light do I examine my own sins?

• By what light do I see myself,   my neighbor,  my God?

The Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus said
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.

So, let’s ask ourselves…

• Do I see as God sees?   Do I want to see as God sees?

• Do I see my life and the lives of others as God sees them?

• Do I see through the eye of God’s wisdom
or am I content to see through our my eyes?
or through the eyes of the media?
or through the eyes of gossiping neighbors?

• Do I see through the eye of God’s compassion and mercy
or through the eyes of portfolios and profit margins?

• Do I see through the eye of God’s love
or do I 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?
- at least 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.
And that is a false presumption.

The scriptures today call us out of our own darkness
and into the light of Christ.
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 there, in the light of Christ, lies the cure
for the blindness we often fail to see in ourselves.

Lent is half over, we are half way to Easter,
and today’s scriptures are rich food for thought
in 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 on 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 his blood.
As once he gave it in the sacrifice of the Cross
so now he shares it with us in the sacrament of this table.

He gathers us here that we might see
not just the appearance of bread and wine,
but deep into the heart of these gifts
and to find there - and to see - Jesus,
the Light of the world,
the light on our path,
the light of our lives.


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