The Journey of Faith

Sunday readings in brief 4 Lent Year A

1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Psalm 22(23); Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

The Journey of Faith

Dear Friends, today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. We have one more week before the beginning of the holy week. Last Sunday and today we read from the Gospel of John. John has very thrilling episodes about how encountering Jesus transformed the lives of certain people. Last Sunday we read from chapter four about the Samaritan woman who came to believe after a long conversation with Jesus. Today we read from chapter nine about the blind man who came to profess his faith in Jesus after the Jews challenged his healing. This passage exposes the challenges we face on our journey to maturity in the faith. I would like us to compare the journey of the blind man to our own.

The introduction to the passage is about the prevailing traditional belief among the Jewish community that if someone was born blind, it was a direct consequence of the sins of his parents or grandparents. Even today in our various traditions, even baptized people still believe in inherited curses.  Jesus disputes this belief when the disciples ask him whether it is because of the sins of the blind man or his parents that he was blind. He tells them that it was meant to reveal the works of God and Jesus was sent for that purpose. Everything has a purpose for God. What we see as a misfortune may be an opportunity to reveal the power of God.

The healing of the blind man on the Sabbath was a cause of dispute between Jesus and the Jews. Jesus spat on the ground and made a paste that he applied to the blind man’s eyes. No work was permitted on a Sabbath including healing and even cooking. People had to prepare enough food on the previous day in order not to violate the law of the Sabbath.

However, this became known through the narration of the blind man to his neighbors about how he came to see again. Some did not believe he was the same blind man who begged in the streets but he insisted that he was the one. Instead of rejoicing with the man who had come to see for the first time, the wicked neighbors wanted the blood of the man called Jesus who had violated the Sabbath by not only healing but also making a paste that he put on the blind man. Even in our days, people will always find faults in the blessing of their neighbors instead of rejoicing with them. They will even doubt the very identity of a person because they are blinded by envy and jealousy.

The Pharisees interrogated the man to find out what had happened. The blind man repeats what he had told the neighbors “He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see”. Confronted with an undisputable miracle, there arose a dispute among the Pharisees about the legitimacy of Jesus just because he healed on a Sabbath. They turned once more to the blind man who now sees and asked him to give his opinion. The blind man now graduates to the next level and says that the man who made him see again is a prophet. This man had nothing to lose, what matters to him is that now he can see.

When they realized that they could not succeed with the man, they cast doubt on whether he was truly born blind so that they can debunk the whole miracle. So, they called his parents who in their turn exposed the fear instilled in the people about believing in Jesus. In an effort to remain politically right, the parents refused to side with their own son about the identity of the man who healed him. “We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but do not know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough, let him speak for himself”. What a blunt refusal to witness the truth? How many times are we caught up in such a situation where we refuse to witness the truth in order to save our own skin?

For the third time, the Pharisees try their luck with the man who was healed in order to discredit Jesus’ mission. However, this time they got disappointment in their life. The blind man is no longer willing to continue with a dispute based on the blindness of the truth. He refuses to condemn Jesus as a sinner simply because he healed him on the Sabbath. “I do not know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see.” He even asks them whether they wanted to become disciples of Jesus that he now considers himself to be, “Do you want to become his disciples too?” At this, they started insulting him. This is a reality in our communities. People who have refused to believe in God go on insulting those who do.

The blind man goes on to speak about what he believes to be true, “God does not listen to sinners but to men who are devout and do his will”. He has surely become a true believer and a witness to Jesus. At this, they drove him away. Later he met Jesus to live and seeing him with his now restored eyesight, made a final profession of faith. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Lord, I believe.”

Jesus speaks in front of the Pharisees about his mission to restore sight to the blind and that those who think she may turn blind. This episode exposes a lot about our practice of faith in the midst of an unbelieving world. Sometimes we do things thinking that we see and refuse to be enlightened. We use our own subjective parameters to judge others. I have come to realize that I will always be good and bad at the same time no matter where I will be. It all depends on who is telling me about me. In the first reading, when God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint a king to replace King Saul who had gone rogue, Samuel looks at the physical appearance of the sons of Jesse but God looks at the heart.

Dear friends, the journey of faith is a journey of brightening our eyesight. The more we mature in faith, the more we will see things clearly. Let us not be blinded by traditions that are based on discrimination against the poor and the powerless. True faith sets us free from all the cultural burdens of popular but discriminatory traditions such as polygamy, child marriage, FGM, and many others. The question we need to ask ourselves today is, Can I truly see things for what they are or do I harbor some kind of blindness caused by my inherited or accumulated biases?

Have a fruitful Lent

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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