|4th Sunday of Lent, 26 March 2017|
From the Dean’s Desk
This Sunday we encounter the second lengthy Gospel reading from John (9:1-41). It relates the story of Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind. Like last week’s Gospel [John 4:5-42] it is about the coming to faith of an individual after their chance meeting with Jesus. What makes this episode more enthralling is the fact that while the blind man moves towards faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the Pharisees and Scribes move further towards spiritual darkness through their unbelief.
Blindness is a dreadful human condition. It can rob us of our independence as those who experience blindness require the assistance of various implements and people for them to move about. Those who work with the blind often say that blind people, especially those born blind, develop their other senses to a greater degree than those born with sight. Their sense of hearing is sharpened and developed to a point that they can pick up noises that may go undetected by others who have the use of sight. They can ‘see’ and ‘perceive’ on a far deeper and more attuned manner than people who have the full use of their sight.
Today’s Gospel immerses us in the idea of this deeper perception: the ‘sight’ that comes from faith. The interaction between the characters in this Gospel passage highlight the themes of light, darkness and faith. In this Gospel passage we are met with two stories: that of the blind man and that of the religious leaders. The blind man moves from no faith (blindness) to full faith (‘Lord, I believe’ v.38), while the religious leaders move in the opposite direction: to a state of blindness in not recognising Jesus for who he is (‘This man cannot be from God… we do not know where he comes from’ v. 16.29).
Focusing on Jesus as the light of the world allows for this deeper perception and faith. Emeritus Pope Benedict hinted at this in his Lenten message of 2011: ‘The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: ‘Do you believe in the Son of man?’ ‘Lord, I believe’ (John 9:35.38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. This miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognise him as our only Saviour. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as children of the light.’
Every Eucharist that we celebrate and pray allows us the opportunity to pray in faith the words of the blind man in today’s Gospel: ‘I was blind and now I can see’ (John 9:25). May our Lenten journey consist of our moving from the darkness and blind spots of our sinful ways into the Light that is Jesus Christ. In meditating on Jesus as the Light of the World, we can take to heart the words of Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians which makes up our second reading today: You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness but exposing them by contrast. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light [Ephesians 5:8-12].
Fr Robert Bossini