Fourth Sunday of Lent (26th March, 2017)
Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1.6-7. 10 – 13. Eph 5: 8-14. John 9: 1- 41
The Scrutinies of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults are celebrated on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, at liturgies where the Elect are present. The Elect are those in our midst who are preparing for Baptism. Even if these rites are not celebrated, it can be wonderful to reflect upon the journey these Elect are making during Lent, as an inspiration and source of renewal for us in our journey. The Gospel for week three John 4: 5-42 The Samaritan woman, presents “Christ the Redeemer” who is living water. Week five is the gospel story of Lazarus, pointing to Christ, as the “resurrection and the life”. For this fourth Sunday we read of the Man Born Blind – witnessing to “Christ the light of the world”. The liturgical instruction of these weeks is a reminder of baptism already received or preparation for its reception, along with the theme of repentance, which renew the entire community and enable us to prepare for the celebration of the paschal mystery together.
The Man Born Blind, John 9: 1- 41.
At the beginning of this Gospel, the disciples see a man blind from birth and they ask, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Who is this man born blind? He is an outcast—and he doesn’t even have a name. The power of what John does here is that when we hear the story, if there is no name, any one of us can step into the story. Jesus takes a simple action: he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam”. The miracle is so ordinary and so “every day” that its very ordinariness seems to be part of the lesson Jesus wants to give us. “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” – which means the one who is Sent – So he went and washed, and came back able to see. He washed in the pool and has new sight.
This is not a story about how Jesus had power 2,000 years ago to cure the sight of a blind man. It’s a story of how Jesus has the power to give us a sign today when we are blind. Let’s face it, we all have blind spots! When driving, ‘blind spots’ are the area of the road that cannot be seen while looking forward or through either the rear-view or side mirrors. Have you ever had a narrow escape like me? Could there be other areas where I am blind? There are: my tunnel vision about how I see the future; my cultural conditioning, which has never been examined; my image of God that may be unchanging; my psychological feelings of guilt or fear. All of these can be obstacles to our relationships with one another and with God. We are all blind, although we could have 20/20 vision.
For the Elect, who step into this story, the Blind Man introduces “Christ as the light of the world”. No wonder the second reading from Ephesians, exhorts, “wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”. This period is intended to enlighten the minds and hearts of the Elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ as Saviour. The man born blind receives his physical sight, but at a deeper level he also receives spiritual insight. For us and for the Elect our spiritual insight needs to be continually renewed, means to this are, silence and reading the Scriptures. One ancient process is Lectio Divina. We Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest with the Word. May this Lent be a process of having our eyes opened to see and our awareness of the Divine Indwelling deepened. One appropriate hymn to bring us to that deeper place is, Amazing Grace “I once was lost but now I’m found / was blind but now I see”.
You may like to consider these questions.
When have your certainties ever blinded you?
When have your strong convictions about God been challenged?
What happened when you opened your eyes to a deepening of faith?
Fionnuala Quinn O.P.