The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sheila Carroll, OSB | Readings Is 42:1-9, John 9:1-41

In our reading tonight, we hear how God sends His message over and over again to the people of Israel and to us. We know that we and others have not totally accepted this message. So, let us listen with the ear of our heart and allow the Word of God not to go in one ear and out the other, but let it bend and filter from our head into our heart so it can transform us.

We are introduced to the ‘suffering servant’ by Isaiah. As Christians, we understand this image as Jesus who will become a light to the nations. As the suffering servant faces persecution, and brings forth justice and freedom to the oppressed, so we as his followers are called to do the same.

In the Gospel reading we hear about a man born blind. Let us image ourselves now as a woman born blind. We wander as this man does, trying to find our way among the pitfalls of life. As this story unfolds, we discover it is really about ‘enlightenment’ and not about the cure. We are called out of darkness into light on our journey through life, as this blind man was. The disciples did not have a clue of what was going on and ask Jesus, “Who sinned here? This man or his parents?” And Jesus simply says, “Neither, rather, he was born blind so God’s works might be revealed through him.” God does the same with us. God transforms our blindness so we, too, can bring forth justice and freedom to our oppressed world today. Jesus anoints the blind man’s eyes with spittle and soil and sends him to the pool of Siloam. He listens and follows the directions and behold he can SEE. Will we listen with the ear of our heart and follow the way of the suffering servant and allow our hearts to be enlightened and transformed? Though we have many opportunities today, we, too will suffer to find the practical ways to bring ‘justice to our world.’

The blind man is investigated by the Pharisees because his cure happened on the Sabbath. With his transformed awareness and inner knowledge, he innocently says, ‘I don’t know; I followed this man’s directions and now I SEE. Do you want to follow him, too?’ Then he decides to meet Jesus. In this encounter, he is asked if he believes in the Son of Man. He says, “Who is he that I may believe?” “You have seen him and he is the one speaking to you, now.” With this spiritual insight, he cries out, “Lord, I believe.” The miracle is complete. The blind man has moved from physical healing to spiritual transformation. This is true for all of us, as we journey from childhood to early adulthood to Christian maturity. We can be enlightened and begin to see things as they really are and discover Jesus on our way. Then we can join the former blind man and say, “Lord, I believe.”