4th Sunday of Lent
4pm Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville
11am Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore
March 25-26, 2017
The first thing I want to say about today’s gospel story is that Jesus takes the initiative.
He sees the man who was born blind. He notices him and does not turn his head and look the other way.
Then Jesus initiates the action. He makes a kind of mud paste with soil and saliva and smears it on the man’s eyes.
He tells the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. And notice that the passage carefully says that the name “Siloam” means “Sent.”
So this man is sent to the pool to wash. And then, after his healing, he is also sent to proclaim faith in Jesus and he does that.
He proclaims Jesus as a good man, then as a prophet, and finally as the Son of Man. That title – the Son of Man – originally meant the best person, the human being closest to God.
Eventually, it came to mean the Son of God himself. So the man born blind is given his eyesight and then he is sent and he goes.
For us, a lesson here is that we also are to take the initiative in assisting someone in need.
Like Jesus, we don’t have to know the background or worthiness of the person. We help because they are in need and, sometimes in our helping, there can also be a sending.
For example, if someone is seriously sick, we can assist with companionship or caring for their personal needs. And then, our sending this person may be our encouragement to pray and draw upon God for strength.
Or if someone we know has an addiction, we try to hang in there with them without enabling them. And our sending this person may be our guidance toward a twelve-step program.
They Are Afraid
The other point in this passage I want to note is that some people are afraid of Jesus’ gift of seeing.
The man’s parents and neighbors and religious leaders do not rejoice in his eyesight. Instead, they find fault with Jesus.
And their reaction gets to the underlying gift that Jesus is giving here – spiritual eyesight, spiritual seeing. The passage uses the word “afraid.”
These people are afraid to admit that Jesus enables the man to see physically because then they will have to admit that he enables all of us to see spiritually. They are afraid of this because they are not sure what it will mean for them.
They are afraid because it might mean that they will have to change in some way. So their fear leads them to remain spiritually blind.
We Are Afraid
Well, being afraid can also keep us from seeing – from seeing spiritually, from seeing the way Jesus wants us to see.
Lately I have been thinking about the fear that some people have of Muslims. That fear leads some to demonize all Muslims.
I think it is something like the dynamic we see in today’s gospel. The religious leaders see Jesus as sinful because he broke the Sabbath law.
And because of that, they believe that nothing good or nothing of God can come from him. They figure that if a person does one thing wrong, the entire person is bad.
This same dynamic can happen in how we see whole groups of people – like Muslims. If some of them do something evil – like ISIS and all the terrorists – then the whole group, all Muslims must be bad.
Fear, being afraid is really what leads to this. When we let fear control us, we are like the parents and neighbors and religious leaders in this story.
We are blocked from seeing – from seeing the way of Jesus and his treatment of all persons as God’s daughters and sons. That fear and its blindness led the people to reject Jesus and can also lead us into an unfair rejection of others.
So, to wrap this up: today’s gospel calls us 1) to take the initiative in assisting others who are in need, and 2) to work through our fear and be open to the spiritual sight that Jesus offers.