4th Sunday of Lent (Fr. Simham)
The story of the man born blind is the story of the spiritual blindness and the need to be healed of that. It was the first Christian community to whom St. John was writing the gospel. And it can be also the story of every believer today.
There are two things that we need to pay our attention to in the gospel today. Two things we need to examine and see are:
1. How the blind man cured struggles to make his own journey of faith.
2. And how the other people react to his journey of faith.
The main purpose of the miraculous cure of the man born blind is to speak about other type of blindness that Jesus has come to cure. It is the spiritual blindness where people fail to recognise the hand of God in their day today lives. And it this cure that takes lot of time. The man born blind, even though he was cured of his physical blindness immediately; it took lots of time for him to recognise who it is who did that miracle in his life. First, he calls him as ‘a man named Jesus.’ Then he says, ‘he must be a prophet.’ And he ends up calling him “Lord” worthy of worship. So to recognise that it is not a man named Jesus but it is Lord Jesus who cured him was a long spiritual journey which he successfully makes. Whereas others who watch the miracle happen and hear the confession of the man could not make the same journey. They have all the evidence to know the truth and make the journey, but they refuse to make that journey. They prefer to remain in their darkness.
Now how do the people react to the man who was cured of his blindness? When he tries to teach them, ‘that God does not listens to sinners. But He listened to Jesus and cured him, therefore he must be from God’; they throw him out of the synagogue and say, you are a sinners, you need not teach us. He was treated as dust and thrown away. And every Christian around 90 or 100 AD who proclaimed Jesus as Lord or who proclaimed his faith in Christ was excluded from the synagogue and was treated as sinner or outcaste like this man. And so in the early Christian community, everyone would have identified themselves with the man cured.
And the lesson also would have gone across to them saying that the people who were actually blind were those who threw them out of the synagogue. Because they were seeing with their own eyes the things that were happening, but still were closing their eyes to the things. They were turning a blind eye to the things that were going on around them. This would have also filled the first Christians with a sense of pride and hope, that in spite of their being considered outcastes, they were really the people who are enlightened and their persecutors were those who are blind and are in darkness.
Friends, here is the lesson for us today too. Every believer today also can identify himself with this man born blind and cured. Because little has changed in the world. You go to work, to school, and the so-called intellectuals belittle you because you are a person of faith. But they cannot answer the questions that matter: What is life really about? What is the purpose for all of our struggles? Can lasting happiness ever be found? Does it exist? Where is it? These self-styled intellectuals cannot answer these questions. But we can. Life is about God who gave us life. We exist to love, honour and serve Him. With God as our centre, every aspect of our life has meaning and purpose. His love is experienced in the love of our families, of our marriages, of our Church family. We experience His Love in each other. There is so much more to life than the physical, the here and now. The spiritual is real. Happiness does exist. It comes from union with God. No one can take this happiness from us. Even those who are persecuted for their faith, people like St. Maximilian Kolbe starving to death in the concentration camp, or Ignatius of Antioch waiting for the lions to be released in the Roman Coliseum or each one of us when we are mocked for our Catholic lifestyle, we still remain at peace with the Lord. We possess the happiness that lasts. We pray everyday for the strength and courage to keep us from sacrificing this happiness, His Happiness, to the empty promises of those who do not know God.
We cannot allow others to put us down for our faith. We know what matters in life. We need to shake off the concept that we are insignificant, members of the mindless masses. Like the blind man who refused to deny what he saw, what he experienced, we need to be passionate witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Remember the story of the man born blind, and don’t be concerned with the snide comments and attacks of others. Instead pray for them to be delivered from their blindness and thank God that with Christ we can see.
Fr. Showreelu Simham