1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 91-41
On the fourth Sunday of Lent, the church gives us the theme ‘Jesus the light of the world.’ It is day of second scrutiny to the catechumens and an invitation to the public sinners. In the early church the catechumens and public sinners were prepared to be received into the church on Holy Saturday. Hence all readings are geared towards this theme. In the first reading we have the choice of David. In obedience to God, Samuel anointed David in the presence of his brothers. From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David. We learn from this reading that God is free to elect whoever He chooses. Divine wisdom far surpasses human wisdom. Human wisdom is limited to what it sees and what it hears. Divine wisdom searches the soul, knowing every thoughts of the mind. Divine wisdom knows those who are fearful of the Lord, those who are humble, and those who will serve the Lord in obedience. It knows those who will live as children of the Light.
Today’s Second Reading reminds us to live as children of the Light. It presents the contrast between those who live a Christian life versus the pagans. The Christians were compared to the light versus the darkness. Paul feels it necessary to remind the Ephesians of this truth. He reminds them that once, they were in the darkness. But now, in the Lord, they are in the Light and, they must live as children of light.
Today’s Gospel Reading also speaks of the Light. As we heard, it was the story of the man who was physically blind since birth. This reading reminds us that by nature, we are all born spiritually blind. Our blindness ends when we were admitted into the Body of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. By remaining righteousness through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, we maintain our sight. Should we choose to neglect this invitation, we will find ourselves blinded by the darkness that surrounds us.
Jesus heals the man’s eyes. In doing so he uses mud and saliva. People believed that saliva could heal and they were right. We know now that our saliva is a kind of antibiotic. Here, Jesus by using mud also helps us to remember God used mud to create Adam, the first man. Here, too, there is a new creation. Jesus is making a new man. He is new that after his healing, the man’s friends and his neighbors fail to recognize him. Because they are not satisfied, neighbors bring the blind man to see the Pharisees. In fact, Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath and the methods he used were a violation of the letter of the Law. Their argument went that if Jesus truly were from God, he would not be breaking the law. On the other hand, if he was a sinner, how could he do these things? Sinners cannot do the work of God. This led to division among the Pharisees themselves because they refused to follow out their own logic.
The Pharisees then interrogate the blind man. He keeps telling them just what Jesus had done for him. For him the answer is quite simple: Jesus is a prophet. Sabbath or no Sabbath, his actions are clearly from God. “How could a man who is a sinner do things like this?” But the Pharisees cannot accept his argument. So they do not even want to accept that the man was ever blind! Now they turn to question the man’s parents. The parents know very well that their son was born blind but they are afraid to say so. They know that now if anyone says Jesus is the Messiah they will be expelled from the synagogue. So the parents push the argument back to the son: he is an adult; he is well able to answer for himself and the game goes on.
The Pharisees are angry and they begin to abuse him. “You are his disciple. We are Moses’ disciples. No one knows where that fellow [Jesus] came from.” The blind man argues: Jesus is from God for God listens to his own and not sinners. The Pharisees are now very angry and they expel him from the synagogue. Jesus hears that the man has been expelled. He goes in search of him and finds him. “Do you believe in the Son of Man, that is, the Messiah?” Jesus asks him. “Tell me who he is and I will believe in him.” He does not recognize the man Jesus for this is the first time he has seen him with his new vision since his healing. Jesus now reveals himself to him. His response is, “I believe, Lord,” and falls down on his knees before Jesus. He is now a disciple. A disciple is someone who knows and can see Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. “I came to this world so that the blind could see and those who see become blind.”
There are two kinds of people: like the blind man, they accept Jesus’ teaching and are the sheep of his flock; like the Pharisees, who refuse to believe, they do not belong to Jesus. This gospel has a clear relation to baptism. We read it today for the catechumens who are preparing to be baptized and enter the Christian community. They have begun to see Jesus, to recognize him and to follow him. But the Gospel is also for us already baptized. We also need to see Jesus and the Gospel more clearly. The words of Paul in the Second Reading are very appropriate: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.”