The readings for the fourth Sunday in Lent make it clear how divine light is coming to awaken humanity from the darkness of sin and ignorance and to prepare humanity to receive divine revelation.
In the first reading, the Lord sends Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as prophet and king. God will do the choosing. When Jesse arrives to anoint, he doesn’t find the preferred candidate. “But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”
The chosen one is not among those seven sons present. So, Samuel waits for them to bring David in from the fields. The Lord said, “There — anoint him, for this is the one!” How foolish is the wisdom of men, and how brilliant is the wisdom of God.
David was a very gifted psalm writer, a leader in worship, battle and as king. He was a man after God’s own heart. In spite of his weaknesses, he brought light, worship, leadership and direction to the community of Israel. Perhaps he also prepared the way for our first pope, St. Peter. Both prove that God can do great things with sinful human beings.
The second reading further develops the theme that Jesus, the Light of the World, is lifting mankind out of darkness. “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Paul exhorts his audience: “Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret.”
Paul is living and teaching the Gospel to the Ephesians, and he sees the Gospel as light producing and love engendering. He follows this up with the exhortation: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
In the Gospel, we see how dramatic and life-transforming Jesus, the Light of the World, really is.
Jesus heals the man’s physical blindness and makes him a source of light to the blind Pharisees, but they are not ready for His light.
When the disciples encounter the blind man, they ask Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus then spat on the ground, mixed the saliva with the clay and smeared it on his eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
He washed and came back able to see.
When his friends and neighbors saw the blind man had regained his sight, they were confused. So, they asked him: “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So, I went there and washed and was able to see.”
When they brought the blind man to the Pharisees, they immediately said “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
They then pressured the parents for answers, but they, out of fear, said: “Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”
The blind Pharisees continued to press the man healed of his blindness by saying to him: “We know that this man is a sinner.”
The healed man replied: “If He is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
What the Pharisees do not realize is that they are dealing with Jesus: The blind man’s answers are coming from Jesus, and the Pharisees do not know it.
The blind man becomes an evangelist for Jesus. He doesn’t slither away from the fray but continues to engage them courageously: “The man answered and said to them, ‘This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does His will, He listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He would not be able to do anything.’”
In this Gospel passage, Jesus is not only addressing the Pharisees of His time, but He also addresses you and me today.
We don’t have any clue as to how spiritually blind we really are. Merely spending more time in prayer or in reading Scripture is, in itself, not enough. We need Jesus to open our eyes to see with the eyes of the Holy Spirit where truth really lies. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of humility to see our real brokenness and have the willingness to embrace that brokenness.
We need enough humility to allow Jesus to show us how poverty stricken we are in His sight. Once we see it and embrace it, then we will experience wonderful relief by trading in our brokenness for Christ’s peace and wholeness. At that point in our life there is nothing we will desire more than union and peace with Christ.