The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday,” which expresses the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection. Today’s readings remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body and soul, and they instruct us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness.
Michael Yaconeli wrote a book entitled God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People. In the book he tells the story of a man recently converted to Jesus and how an unbelieving friend sought to “see” why he converted to Jesus:
“So you have been converted to Christ?”
“Then you must know a great deal about Him. Tell me, what country was He born in?”
“I don’t know.”
“What was His age when He died?”
“I don’t know.”
“How many sermons did He preach?”
“I don’t know.”
“You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.”
“You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about Him. But this much I know: Three years ago I was a drunkard. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces; they dreaded the sight of me. But now I have given up drink. We are out of debt. Ours is a happy home. My children eagerly await my return home each evening. All this Christ has done for me.”
Does it not sound like the answers given by the blind man healed by Jesus? (Jn 9:1-41) It’s like watching Law and Order except no one wants to see the facts of the case.
They question the blind man: “How were your eyes opened?”
He says: “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
Then they take the blind man to the Pharisees for questioning. He tells the same story: “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
But because Jesus performed this cure on the Sabbath, the Pharisees don’t want to believe this “Jesus” is from God so they ask the man born blind: “What do you have to say about Him?”
To which he responds: “He is a prophet.” So now the Jews don’t believe that the man was BORN blind so they call in his parents. They say: “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age, he can speak for himself.”
Still not satisfied, they call the blind man in again. Now he says in reference to Jesus: “If He is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” Then in utter frustration the man says: “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes.”
Today, I think he would say something like this: “Come on guys, this is a no brainer! I was blind from birth, this guy slaps some mud on my eyes and tells me wash it off in the pool of Siloam, and now I see. Hello!! Am I the only one who can see?”
To which I respond: “YES! You are the only one who can see!”
The Gospel is really very simple and clear. Jesus is the light of the world. He anointed the guy’s eyes; tells him to wash; the guy does it and sees and believes. His story is really our story. We may not know the answers, but this we do know. We do see and we do believe in Jesus, the Light of the world. And in our faith, we worship Him. However, just because we believe in Jesus, we are not always free of blindness. We have to struggle to see sometimes.
The real beauty of the man born blind is that the more they badgered him, the less he was blind. We cannot be like the Pharisees and take up a refusal to see position. Lent is such a wonderful time for us to recover from blindness. We can easily lose our vision in our selfish choices or in our grudges, or in any number of other ways. How about if we are always hanging around people that are cussing and telling dirty jokes? All of a sudden we become blind to the sin and start doing it ourselves.
How about when we get so caught up in the TV or even a video game, that we are blind to the help that someone else in the room could use. How about when we are constantly talking to someone who loves to talk about others and we become blind to this sin and start talking about others also. The point is, the more we put ourselves in the occasion of sin, the more we become blind to the sin. The more we dwell on anger and hatred, the more we are blind to forgiveness and love. The real blind man is the one who can no longer see the truth and tries to justify himself and his lies.
On this Laetare Sunday, make the decision to be healed of your blindness by allowing Jesus to anoint your eyes with the grace of a good and thorough confession and then you can wash in the pool of truth and make the deliberate choice to avoid the occasions of sin that will lead you back into the blindness and darkness of being away from Christ.
** Due to time commitments, Father Grassi is unable to take blog comments at this time. If anyone has a question of faith, please feel free to call Father Grassi at St. Thomas Catholic Church or speak to him after Mass.