Bottom line: This Sunday we ask Jesus for sight: to see those near us - their heart, not just their appearance - and above all to see the reality of who Jesus is.
Today we heard about a blind man who - through Jesus - sees. We are like that man: we need Jesus in order to see.
Our modern world has a particular form of blindness. We have microscopes to see things very small and telescopes to see distant objects, but often we do not see what is closest to us. Recently a priest classmate had a health crisis that almost cost his life. I learned about it late and felt bad that I had not been there to support him. I did try to make up as best I could, but the incident made aware of an irony: I knew about Charlie Sheen's troubles, but about my friend, I knew nothing.
We live in a strange times. We know more about celebrities than we do about next door neighbors - or even those we call "family" and "friends." So many things distract us from what really matters. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: "I think the world today is upside down. ... We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world."
This Sunday we ask Jesus to heal our blindness, particularly our failure to see those close to us. Help us to see our own children, our family members, our fellow parishioners. As the first reading today says, not just the outward appearances, but the heart.
It is terrible to not see those close to us, but there is an even worse form of blindness: the failure to see Jesus. The man born blind has a lot to teach us. If you listened attentively to today's Gospel, you notice that he went through a progression that involves four stages.
At first he only sees "the man called Jesus." He knows Jesus as a fellow human. When they press him, however, he makes this declaration: "He is a prophet." Then he has a moment alone with Jesus. He hears this question: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" In the Old Testament the Son of Man was someone who would come to set things right by judging the nations. (Dn 7:13-14) The man born blind responds with a profound profession of faith, "I do believe, Lord."
In the Hebrew Scriptures the title, "Lord," belonged to God himself. In today's first reading that the word LORD appears six times - in capital letters. When the man born blind calls Jesus, "Lord," he is making the ultimate profession of faith. For that reason, an act of adoration immediately follows: "He worshiped him."
Jesus himself said, "Before Abraham came to be, I AM." (Jn 8:58) The man born blind saw what others did not: That Jesus is God. As we say in the Creed, "God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father."
So the man born blind takes these four steps in seeing Jesus: First, "man" - a fellow human, then prophet (one who speaks for God),* then judge ("Son of Man) and finally, Lord - the one true God.
This Sunday we ask Jesus for sight: to see those near us - their heart, not just their appearance - and above all to see the reality of who Jesus is. Amen.
*Muslims take this second step - they recognize Jesus as a prophet.
From Archives (Year A homilies for Fourth Sunday of Lent):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
my bulletin column
SMV Bulletin (be patient - sometimes we have problems uploading)
Parish Picture Album
40 Days for Life (Everett, WA)
Q&A about Planned Parenthood
An Audio Lenten Retreat by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain (thirteen talks, 10 to 15 minutes long, on topics such as temptation, grudges, surrender, mercy, etc. - well worth listening to)
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