4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
Let us pray:
Lord, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
Open our eyes to your wisdom and goodness.
We bring you our cowardice and fear; bring us your Spirit of service and care.
Shine your light, Lord, upon us – so it may shine out of us to others.
Anoint us, Jesus, with the ‘mud-paste’ of your love:
Let us not be blind to the beauty around and within all that is.
Light up every sorry place – and every wonderful face – with your grace.
With your help. Lord, we will not be hindered by the Christian message
from improving the world, but, on the contrary,
we are bound [and empowered] to do just that. AMEN
*from the Vatican II document, The Church in the Modern World, #34, translated by Bill Huebsch, Vatican II in Plain English: The Constitutions, p.150.
The Gospel — John 9: 1-41
In John’s gospel ‘miracle stories’ are never simple and are never called miracles. They are SIGNS that reveal Jesus. What do you make of this sign or teaching? What do you make of the mud/saliva paste?
e.e.cummings wrote a poem on spring; he called it ‘mud-luscious.’
Jesus spits – he mixes this part of himself with the clay of the earth. (Spit, saliva, in Jesus’ day was thought to have healing properties; it actually does.) He then smears (the Greek word used means anointing) the man’s eyes with this paste and tells him to go and wash. Ordinary, even crude, elements become ways for Jesus to work. This is the essence of our sacraments.
From Celebrations, March 10, 2002:
We are to be like this mud-paste; Jesus mixes into our ‘earthiness’ the healing substance of himself. We are to be people molded by Christ’s truth, transformed by his words. As this ‘mud-paste’ we are to be helping to ‘heal’ the world by being in it: we are ointment not pipelines. We help others to see Jesus more by how we are and how we live than by what we pass along.
The word Siloam means ‘Sent’ – so does the word apostle. Sacraments are ‘signs’ – rituals – that send us forth; every Mass also ends with a sending forth . . . What does it mean to you to be sent?
The story is about the struggle to see –what does this mean? Have you ever struggled to see?
At first, the blind man only knew Jesus as a man, then as a prophet; at the end he calls him, Lord – a beautiful growth in faith . . .What did knowing Jesus as Lord ‘cost’ the man? What does it cost you?
From Reginald Fuller, “Scripture in Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu :
The original story in this gospel might have simply been about how a man was born blind and was healed by Jesus. This story was then later expanded due to the suffering and needs of the community for which John was writing. He was taking an experience of Jesus and applying it to the present situation. Isn’t that how the Spirit of the Risen Lord usually works? So John’s gospel has a trial and expulsion from the synagogue of Jewish converts to Christianity. This did not happen in Jesus’ day, but it did happen to those of John’s community. For this community to live through this very difficult time, Jesus must be seen and accepted as the true Light of the World that can help them overcome the darkness in which they were living. The washing in the pool of Siloam also suggests a further connection with baptism since the early Church often called baptism an ‘illumination” (photismos).(Also, from Celebration, March 10, 2002)
From John Foley, S.J. “Spirituality of the Readings,” http://liturgy.slu.edu :
Why is this reading presented during Lent? Because it is pointing to the even greater healing that Easter offers us. We need to prepare for this. Jesus himself will suffer from the blindness of the world and will die because of the blindness of evil. Jesus will descend into the unseeing darkness of mortality, death, and by doing this he will show that love – God’s love –is stronger than death. By his death the world can be healed of its hatred, fear, insecurity; it can finally, once and for all, be assured of God’s love and power to bring good out of even the worst of evils. For, it is the crucified One who is the Risen One. We need to admit that we are like this blind man; we cannot see very well. Our eyes need to be opened. Due to Jesus, we can begin to glimpse and trust God’s answer to blindness, suffering, and sin.
Martin Luther Kin Jr. says, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Helen Keller was blind and deaf. Her teacher Anne Sullivan signed the word ‘water’ as she pumped from the well. It was in that moment that Helen had comprehension that words stood for things. She says, “She (Sullivan) awakened in me a long forgotten memory…the realization of that word…the touch of the water called my soul to life…she brought me into the light again.”
Some thought from Henri Nouwen in Here and Now:
. “…pain can be embraced, not out of a desire to suffer, but in the knowledge that something new will be born in the pain, “ (p. 47)
“What really counts is our willingness to let the immense sufferings of our brothers and sisters free us from all arrogance and from all judgments and condemnations and give us a heart as gentle and humble as the heart of Jesus, “ (p. 78).
Let us pray:
O Lord of life,
touch our hearts and minds
with the light to seek after Light.
We grow too use to the comfort
of our lies, our shadows and our masks.
Make us uncomfortable
with all that does not lead us to You.
Fill us with the grace of your courage
so that our very lives
will testify to the truth of your love. Amen.