Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 26, 2017)
We just heard another of those wonderful stories found in John’s Gospel. Each story is told to teach us something, to get us to look deeper into life. This is a story of light and sight - about not seeing the light, being afraid to see the light, seeing the light, and tragically refusing to see the light.
Jesus, the light of the world, gives sight to the man who has been blind from birth. The waters of the pool of Siloam wash away the muddy earth from his eyes, and he sees - an obvious reference to the waters of Baptism.
It’s hard to believe that the Pharisees could be so obstinate in their refusal to believe what the man reported to them. They are blinder than the man ever was Even the parents are afraid to believe their own son’s story, for fear of being put out of the synagogue.
The Gospel points out that Jesus wasn’t only interested in the man’s bodily sight. He came to give him “saving sight” - the fullness of faith in him as God’s Son and Savior of the world. The man’s belief in Jesus cost him his place in the synagogue.
The final scene of the story shows us the tragedy that is unfolding. Those who took great pride in their religious sight are not open to the light that Jesus brings. They are the truly blind.
Each of us from time to time shares in the various attitudes displayed in the Gospel story. Sometimes we are like the man born blind and Jesus must give us sight. Sometimes, like the Pharisees, we’re reluctant to see his workings in those around us. Like the man’s parents, we can be afraid to acknowledge the light of Christ because others may criticize us, or worse, reject us. The Gospel is encouraging us to live faithfully by the light that Jesus gives us.
The conclusion of the Gospel is a warning: there are no privileged people in the community of faith. Jesus is the source of the light by which we all see. If we choose to be our own light, we risk eternal blindness.
May each of us have the courage to examine our own way of seeing and again choose Jesus as our light.
Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.