Home -> Deacon Mages -> March 6, 2005
Fourth Sunday of Lent - Cycle A
March 6, 2005
If Jesus were an owner of a sports team, it might seem as if he had a way of picking up mostly second- and third-rate players. He doesn’t seem to go for the Sammy Sosas’ or the Michael Jordans’. It seems that whenever God calls forth believers and followers, those chosen are the youngest, the forgotten, the overlooked, the sinner, the enemy, the crippled or the blind. The list of who God trusts and has confidence in does not come from the list of Who’s Who.
The blind man in today’s Gospel believed in Jesus. He followed his instructions and washed the mud from his eyes in the pool of Siloam. He acknowledged Jesus as being from God. He was given his sight. Both physically and spiritually.
Sometimes we don't see very well when it comes to seeing God and God’s activity in our lives. It’s a matter of seeing the deeper realities hidden within the people and within the events that we encounter in our lives.
When Helen Keller was not quite a year and a half old she lost her sight and hearing. The result of some strange fever as an infant left her both deaf and blind. Her family spoiled her terribly and she became very uncontrolled. Later, she tried to describe this period in her life when she was like the blind man in today’s gospel. She described what it was like to be imprisoned in her body, fighting back anger and rage. She waited and waited for release, for some kind of help.
A hundred and eighteen years ago last Thursday, when Helen was almost 7 years old, that help arrived. She writes: “The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Annie Mansfield Sullivan, came to me.” “On that eventful day I stood on the porch, dumb and expectant. I guessed vaguely from my mother’s signs and from the hurrying to and fro that something unusual was about to happen. So I went to the door and I waited on the steps.”
“I did not know what the future held… Anger and bitterness had preyed upon me continually, and left me with a great struggle. I felt approaching footsteps. I reached out my hand as I supposed it to be my mother. But someone took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of someone who had come to reveal all things to me. And more than all else, to love me.”
I know our God wants to do that same thing for us. To take away our blindness. To reveal all things to us. And above all else, to love us. Helen Keller responded to Annie Sullivan. She didn’t change overnight, but Annie didn’t give up and God doesn’t give up on us either. We are forgiven and loved always.
We are all blind in many ways. We need the love and forgiveness of God. We want that love and forgiveness. We don’t really want to be blind but sometimes we don’t recognize our blindness.
I gave a homily on this Gospel in 1997. I looked back on my notes and saw that there were something like 46 armed conflicts going on in the world. Most of them in the name of God. I don’t know what that number is today but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were the same or even more. Many of them make the news like the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the fighting on the West Bank. These make the headlines but there are over 40 other armed conflicts that most of us don’t even know about.
We are followers of Jesus and Jesus practiced love and forgiveness. Many times we want to get back at someone who has hurt us. We want to demand compensation. We want the last word. We need to recognize our blindness. We need to finally say NO! I won't respond in kind. I forgive you! I love you!
We talk about being disciples of Jesus yet what is our reaction when we hear racist jokes and stories or when we read articles about discrimination against minorities or when someone is executed by the State in our name.
What a shame it would be if Jesus looked at us and said, “You say that you see…but your sin remains.” Lent is such a wonderful opportunity to take another look at ourselves and to see ourselves as we are.
Once we discover our blindness Jesus can heal us. And then, in order to remain sighted, we need to go out and be Jesus to others.
Bill Mages All rights reserved.