Small Gesture with Enormous Promise

(Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A)

Bottom line: Jesus anoints the blind man; for those willing to be amazed this small gesture contains enormous promise for the future.

A few people have noticed my new haircut. The close cut style is the new "Barak Obama look." I'm hoping to get some of his charisma. But someone said to me, "Father, it will take more than a haircut."

In today's Gospel we see the person with the greatest charisma ever. Jesus performs a small gesture with enormous promise. He anoints the eyes of blind man. In order to understand the importance of this gesture, we need to keep in mind a paradox: Those who think they see clearly are often blind and those considered blind are sometimes the ones who truly see. We call that a paradox - an apparent, but not real, contradiction.

A popular movie illustrates the paradox about blindness and vision. The film is titled "Juno" after its principal character. Juno is a high school girl who gets pregnant and, after talking with her boyfriend, decides to "nip it in the bud." When she goes to the abortion clinic, she runs into a lone protester - a girl in her class named Su-Chin. Holding a sign with a picture of a baby, Su-Chin timidly chants "All babies/ want to get borned! All babies/ want to get borned!" Amused - and feeling a bit sorry for Su-Chin - Juno talks a moment with her, then heads into the clinic. Su-Chin calls out, "Your baby has a beating heart… it can feel pain… and it has fingernails!" At the word "fingernails," Juno turns around and says, "Really?" In the waiting room, Juno notices the fingernails of each person there. She stands up and walks out of the clinic.

The shy, introverted Su-Chin opens the eyes of her self-confident, extroverted classmate. But several months later, Juno in turn helps someone see. With her belly as round as a basketball, she runs into the woman (Vanessa) who wants to become her child's adoptive mother. Juno tells her that the baby is kicking up a fuss inside her. Hesitantly, Vanessa asks if she can feel the baby. Juno says, "sure," and Vanessa puts her hand on top of Juno's stomach. "I don't feel anything," she says. Juno tells her she has to talk to him. Disregarding all propriety (they are in the middle of a shopping mall) the lady kneels in front of Juno and places her hands on either side of the abdomen. At first slowly - and then as if she is in a world apart - she addresses the child. Suddenly Vanessa gives a start. "I felt him," she says. A beautiful expression comes over her: That tiny moment of interaction holds enormous promise for the future.

So it is in today's Gospel. Jesus performs a seeming small gesture. He anoints a blind man's eyes. For those who think they have everything figured out, mud and saliva seem crude. But for those willing to be amazed the gesture holds tremendous promise.

In a few moment our catechumens will receive the second scrutiny or pre-baptismal exorcism. It reminds us that just as Jesus anointed the blind man, he wants to open our eyes. If we are willing to be amazed, Jesus can do great things for us.


Spanish Version

From Archives (Year A Homilies for Fourth Sunday of Lent):

Best Lent Ever Week 4: Become a Continuous Learner (2017)
Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 4 (2014)
Sight (2011)
Small Gesture with Enormous Promise (2008)
Seeing and Knowing (2005)
Men Who Went Blind (2002)
Fatal Blindness (1999)

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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