Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent: March 2, 2008

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

As with all of Jesus’ miracles,
the cure of physical blindness here is not the point.
Rather, Jesus’ purpose here is to speak about
light and darkness, sight and blindness
in the mind, in the heart, in the spirit, in the soul.

Except for the very wise among us --
and some among us are wise indeed --
most of us simply believe what we see
and spend little time pondering how we see what we see,
or what we fail to see,
or what we refuse to see,
or what we want to see.
We tend to trust what we see, the way we see it
and to believe what we see, the way we see it to be true.

That’s just how the Pharisees looked at things.

Standing before them was a man born blind who now could see.
But they could not see how this came to be.
They were blind to how the man born blind came to see.

Many things blind us to what’s right in front of us.
Many things cloud our vision of what’s within arm’s reach.
Many things tempt us to see what is not there
or to fail to see what is right in our face.
The questions this story poses, then, run like these:
"Do I see?
Through what eyes do I see?
Do I trust only what I see, the way I see it?
Can I acknowledge that there may be another way of seeing
what I see?
Can I admit that perhaps God sees some realities,
some people and some situations,
differently than how I see them?
Is it possible that my own eyes might lie to me?
Do my mind and heart need glasses?
Does my vision need correction?
Could it be that the world as I see it
may not quite be the world as it is?
Could it be that God, as I see God,
may not quite be God, as God is?”

Our culture tells us that each individual’s sight is infallible.
It affirms that whatever I see is true.
Whatever I perceive to be true is true:
at least it’s true for me and if it’s true for me –
that’s good enough!

I began thinking this way when I was about 11 or 12 years old
when I was convinced that my view of the universe was 20-20 –
while I thought my parents were pretty much legally blind.
Unfortunately, some 50 years later,
I still find myself trusting the infallibility of my own eyes,
and they are very fallible eyes.
It’s so easy to rely on them
and very often what my eyes tell me, is unreliable.

The theory that my vision is infallible is interesting
but the truth is that those who see most clearly
(the wise among us)
are those who understand that even with eyes-wide-open
we can often be blind.
And that we often see most clearly
when our eyes are closed to our own autonomy.

We live in a world infallibly convinced
of the truth of its own vision
and yet much of what we’ve made of the world
resembles the work of those who labored in the dark,
their eyes shut to the light around them.

We need to be wakened from a dark sleep
which can be so deep as to blind us from the darkness itself.
We need to rise up to light
that we might recognize the dark when we encounter it.
None are so spiritually blind
as those who are blind to their own blindness.

To seek the light;
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:
therein lies the cure for the blindness we often fail to see;
therein lies the truth to which we can often be quite blind.

Only faith helps us see our own blindness;
only faith opens our eyes to the light and the truth.

Eyes of faith look at this altar and see a table;
eyes of faith see bread and wine
and behold the body and blood of Christ;
eyes of faith see the risen One made visible
in the supper of the Lord.

Lord, open our eyes – and help us to see…



  1. This is an incredibly wonderful post!!
    Oh, how I wish I had read this BEFORE speaking to my OCIC students during the "breaking open of the word". I am going to take a copy of this to the Wednesday class period.

    I enjoy your blog so much, thank you for taking the time and effort to post!

  2. Thanks, Soutenus! I preached it four times this weekend and didn't get any feedback from folks going out the door after Mass. That's unusual so I wondered if my approach had been off the mark. I was trying to confront the relativism in our culture without ranting and raving about it.

    I'm grateful for your comment!

  3. I had actually left a post yesterday, but must have some how botched the posting. Here it is again:

    What a wonderful homily! I heard it at Mass this morning and I could not wait for it to be posted; I know I did not absorb everything in the first hearing of it. Thank you Concord Pastor for helping us to "see" through a different set of lenses.

  4. Concord Pastor, I think we are spoiled by your always excellent homilies. We may not comment as we leave the church, but know that we do learn from them and do appreciate the effort put into creating them. I would like to comment on your homily at evening prayer last night. Perhaps the reason it may be difficult to arise early in the morning is because you stay up so late at night!


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