Deacon Tom’s Homily: 4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

My friends,
There are many who believe that some people are poor because they are bad. And there are those who think that prosperity in this life is a sign of God’s pleasure. In today’s gospel, the disciples see a man who was born blind, and they ask Jesus, “Was it his or his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind?” Now, who among us hasn’t asked a similar question at some time? We reason that since God is in charge of everything, anything bad that happens must be some sort of punishment for that bad deed. The belief that suffering is a punishment from God can cause all sorts of problems. Many believe that those who find favor with God lead pleasant lives, and those who are evil are doomed to lives of misery. No! That’s not how it works! Jesus’ message is very clear.

Jesus wants us to see as he sees, to see through his eyes.
We need to recognize that our suffering is not a punishment from God. We also need to stop spending so much time and energy looking to place blame. Too often, assigning blame for suffering is a way to avoid getting involved. Rather, we should open ourselves to Christ and put all of that energy we are wasting into finding a compassionate, life-giving response by simply looking at the world around us through the eyes of God, the eyes that Jesus sees through.

A friend of mine who received a big award accepted it by saying, “I don’t deserve this. But then he raised his head and said, I have very poor eyesight too, and I don’t deserve that either.” My friends, it is dangerous for us to think too much about what we deserve and what we do not deserve.

I remember speaking with a wonderful woman of great faith that I knew. She was the mother of two young children and was very sick and would soon die. I suggested that she might want to read the book called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” She laughed, she looked at me and said, “You know, the question I ask a lot is, “Why don’t more bad things happen to bad people?’ I can deal with my sickness, but I really wonder why God doesn’t punish my husband who left me and our children when I got sick.” Yes, sometimes life seems so unfair, doesn’t it? I think we all wish that good people would have all the good luck and that people would be punished for every bad thing they do.

But, life is a lot more complicated than that. Suffering is a mysterious thing, and God’s ways are not our ways. As long as we live in this world, we will never understand why things happen as they do unless we can see through the eyes of Jesus.

Saint Paul, in today’s second reading, calls us to live in the light of the Lord, not in darkness. Like the man born blind in today’s gospel, we need to learn to see. We are called, though, to see in the way that God sees. God does not look for people to blame or punish. Rather, God looks on each one of us with love, with forgiveness, and with compassion.

The theme of our Lenten journey this Lent, already half over, is to open ourselves to Christ. By doing that, we would learn to see as God sees.
We would strive to want what God wants, and to act as God would have us act. When we pray, we should not try to change God, to persuade God to do things our way. Rather, we need to trust God enough that we can pray for God to change us. We need to trust God enough so that we can pray that God will help us all to stop looking for people to blame and start looking through the eyes of Jesus for ways to help ourselves and one another.

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