Jesus gives sight and insight
Dear brothers and sisters!
The 4th Sunday of Lent (also known as Laetare =Rejoice since Easter is near) invites us to reflect on our identity as Children of Light. We ought to bear in mind that this light is a given one. The ability to see is a very precious gift. Lack of physical sight compromises the quality of life. A person who was born blind has nothing in one’s experience which one can imagine seeing.
In fact, in order to imagine, one needs known images as points of reference. Whereas we want to be grateful to God for the ability to make use of our eyes in order to see the beauty of creation, the word of God today invites us to look at our spiritual blindness and let the Light of the World (Jesus) give us sight.
Today‘s Gospel text (John 9, 1-41) presents to us Jesus who was passing by and caught sight of a man „blind from birth“. New creation is going to happen here. In the beginning there was total darkness which covered the whole earth. Then God, in His creative power, said: „Let there be light! And there was light. (Genesis 1, 2-3). Light was God’s first creation. In the blind man we see darkness which covers existence. Jesus, healing this blind man, is God Himself at work. God’s word is indeed a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path through all moments of darkness (see Ps 119,105).
It is important to note how the healing takes place and how the blind man receives light. Jesus takes some clay with his own spitle (Oh God, it is a droplet…Corona-Virus!!! Don’t worry, Jesus is Lord even over all viruses!!!). He takes the very material out of which the human being was made and mixes it with his own spirit in order to effect a new creation (Gen 2,7). The man is sent by Him (Jesus) who was sent to give life. After washing he comes back seeing. The Annointed One anoints the eyes and healing sets in. Since we have to do with creation, it is important to note that the promise of the tempter in Gen 3, 5 :“…when you eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…“ caused a profound blindness to settle over humanity. Thus, all human beings are spiritually blind from birth because they lost the supernatural grace in which they were created. The original lens on reality was lost. The blind man in the gospel is a representative of humanity in need of restoration. With our sight restored we shall have a better image of God, of others and of ourselves.
At Baptism, we all receive light from the Easter Candle, that is, we receive light from Christ himself. Jesus told us that „no one lights up a lamp to put it under a bushel. Instead one puts it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.“ (Mt 5, 15). Whereas the Gospel speaks about a deepening of vision for the blind man, it also unfolds the deepening of blindness for the Pharisees. After receiving sight, the man who was blind becomes a witness. Even if at first he doesn’t know who Jesus is, he bases his testimony on the fact that he has opened his eyes. The Pharisees who should see this light shining are in fact blind. The man who was blind does not only receive sight but also insight into the identity of Jesus. Jesus tells him:“You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.“ (Joh 9,37). The light of faith that we receive sets us all on a journey of deepening our knowledge of God. It creates room in us so that we can see the self-communication of God. In this way we learn to see the way God sees. The men of the appearances (the Pharisees) were blinded by their insistence on the outward observance of the Law in such a way that they couldn’t embrace the newness that Jesus brought. The way we see will certainly determine the way we judge reality. Yahweh said to Samuel: „Do not look on his appearance…for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.“ (First Reading 1 Samuel 16). With the light of faith, we, as christians, are helped to see beyond appearances, for these are many times very deceptive. I wish we could all learn not to judge reality and people according to the way they appear! Antoine de Saint Exupery put it this way:“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible.“
The Covid-19 Pandemic has cast a terrible darkness over the whole world. Perhaps we have the „best Lent ever“ in which we can let God’s light dispell this darkness. We (poor and rich) all realize that we are limited beings. Our life as humans on this Planet earth depends entirely on God. We are grateful for all the efforts being taken in order to find a solution to this terrible disease, but we ought not to forget that we are, at the same time, fighting a spiritual battle (Eph 6). Let us go beyond the dark appearance of this time of trial and discern in it a chance to cultivate our interiority as individuals and as christian communities.
For the time being there is no physical closeness with one another, but our spiritual closeness will bring us all to a journey on which we follow Christ to the Cross as brothers an sisters. Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900) wrote a very inspiring hymn: „Onward Christian Soldiers! Marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus going on before!“ Let us allow ourselves be led by Christ and be light wherever we are. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who is leading us through the dark valleys. Let us do our part by following the directives given to us and then leave the rest to him who leads us along the right path. The Letter to the Ephesians reminds us of who we are as children of light (Today’s First Reading). St. Paul is encouraging us to rise from the dead so that Christ may give us his light“ (Eph 5,14).
May the light of Christ shine into our darknesses and may our own light shine into the actual darkness of the world. We bring light into darkness if: we refrain from spreading misinformation or contradicting messages which may cause unnecessary panic; we only follow the directives of the legitimate civil and medical authorities; we have our hearts opened to more solidarity especially with the poorest of our communities.