Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16, Psalm 23 (22), Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9: 1-41
Having come to the conclusion of our celebration this morning, what will we take with us into this day, this one day of light and grace, given to us for ourselves and for one another? Although all of the Scriptures today are helpful, let’s consider especially the Gospel.
We heard read aloud the short form of the Gospel, the newspaper version of the curing of the blind man; it focused on the wondrous miracle and the drama of religious opposition. In the full form of today’s Gospel, we have a chance to hear Jesus as he draws out the inner meaning, the parable within his action of curing a man born blind.
In the long form, Jesus answers that age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”– a question intensified in our midst today by the global pandemic. Jesus says it clearly, plainly and simply: “This is the way it is, so that the works of God might be made visible.’ He means in situations where we are powerless, when we are able to acknowledge our need (our blindness), God is able to work, leading us to one another.
In the long form of today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” So in this celebration we have partaken intimately of the Light — once again in the world, in us. Having received the light of Christ this morning in Word and in Eucharist, we can be confident that the Light will guide us in ministering to our neighbor, far and near.
The long form of the Gospel concludes with a paradox, so typical of the way Jesus challenged his listeners: “I am come so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus warns them that there is error and even sin in their self-satisfied insistence that they see clearly and absolutely.
As many of you know, I worked for a dozen years with teenagers who were blind and visually impaired. They taught me a great deal. Early on, they introduced me to the paradox of blindness and sight. Driving along the old Oregon Trail with three blind teens, I was talking as fast as I could, describing for them all the features of the landscape. From the back seat, Heather spoke up emphatically: “Eleanor! Stop trying to tell us what you see. We are never going to see it!” From that day, the teens were able to help me get beyond my blindness and concentrate on showing them the Trails in ways that they could grasp.
The gift of today’s readings and Eucharist can help us acknowledge and get beyond our blindness, just for today. We will probably never be able to make another see the political landscape as we see it. We will likely not be able to make others see requirements of liturgical rubric as we see them. We may not be able to convince each other about the proper way to disinfect a table or play a hand of cards or get the “real point” of a movie or a book. What one person sees is invisible to another; the crunch comes when any of us insist that our view is the right and only view. We know all this, each in our own way we know it. May we take the Light that is Christ with us from this celebration, letting the Light show us the true way to one another.