Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23:1-6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

First Reading: Today’s first reading introduces the great King David to posterity. We first find him in the fields tending his sheep, not in royal surroundings. It is a reminder that God’s ways often challenge human presumptions.

Psalm 23: It is no accident that this psalm is paired with the Samuel reading, for it continues the shepherd theme, inviting us to reflect on the image of God as our shepherd.

Second Reading: The Letter to the Ephesians is written from a post-Resurrection understanding that Christ Jesus destroyed the power of darkness with his victory over death. Today’s passage outlines ethical guidelines for Jesus’ followers.

Gospel: The contrast of darkness and light underscores both the healing of the blind man and the teaching of Jesus about who is spiritually blind and who can truly see.

Reflection: Are you blind?! Has your mother (or father) ever asked this question of you? We tend to think of it as a rhetorical question, but after examining this week’s Gospel reading we wonder if this is what is happening or truly that Jesus has healed the blind man.

For people blessed with eyesight, it can be very difficult to understand what it must have been like to be the blind man in this Gospel passage. Think about a man who has been blamed all of his life for his own blindness. Think about his willingness to trust Jesus. Imagine him feeling the mud on his eyes and his walk to Siloam to wash. Consider his feeling of vulnerability as his parents left him on his own to explain this miracle. And think of his courage in response to the Pharisees’ questions.

To move from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ usually requires a progressive movement of allegiance to Jesus. Today’s gospel asks the baptized to continue in the progress of Lent. Like the man born blind, we are sent to help others see and come to believe.

Sometimes we are the obtuse ones who need to be jolted out of our frozen ways of thinking and acting; sometimes we are the presence of Christ who calls others to a broader vision and deeper faith. At all times Jesus, who has come to offer us life, pursues us and gives us all we need to believe.

Our being sent and witnessing to the good news of Christ doesn’t have to be in such extraordinary, controversial circumstances as the man born blind. Our witness unfolds in the everyday actions of our lives, when we “produce every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” (today’s second reading). Daily we awake to our destiny to be children of the light.

Are you blind?!

Question for reflection: What is preventing me from seeing the ways of Christ in my discipleship?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved

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