Fourth Sunday of Lent
Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
St Paul tells us in today’s letter to the Ephesians, to “live as children of light” and that “you are light in the Lord”. We know that St Paul experienced this personally in his own life. On that road to Damascus he was pierced by Divine Light – a light that blinded him giving him a second sight and a second chance. This Light is Christ and, like St Paul, it can lead us to conversion so that we can (quote) “produce every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth”. Lent is a time to recognize this Light and be given a second chance, a chance for conversion in places of our own darkness or obscurity.
There are many similarities with St Paul and the blind man in today’s gospel – and I will briefly name two. One is that neither took the initiative to ask for sight. Jesus approached them, or more accurately burst into their darkness, and gave the light. This is one of the troubles with blindness – we don’t even know that we cannot see. This leads to the second similarity. Paul could see but was blind and when he became blind he began to really see…to see Reality. In John’s gospel, the blind man sees while those around him with sight are blind. The effect of this healing brings both Paul and the cured man to amazing boldness and confidence in Jesus Christ. This daring faith is the true miracle as we discover that the blindness is really about a lack of faith.
Jesus once asked a blind beggar point blank, “Do you want to see?” The answer seems a no-brainer but we may need to pause and reflect before saying “of course I do”! More often than not we don’t want to see our inner reality – our brokenness, unkindness, or fear. For example, if people are afraid to approach me for fear of the reaction they will get, can I really say I want to see? Or if a person is giving me their opinion and I get defensive am I not choosing to remain partially blind? As Pat said several times, we need feedback to know reality, otherwise we do remain blind. When we are aware that God is The Reality, the Truth, we do not need to be afraid. The divine light is right there to help, heal, and hold us? After all if we go deeper, we will find under our brokenness the beauty of our hearts, the capacity to love and to be loved…without fear.
As we all know, the Light of Christ does not have anything to do with physical light. In The Life of Benedict, we hear that his greatest experience of the Divine Light happened at midnight. He got up to pray and saw one profound ray of light that captured the whole world in its single beam. Benedict instructs all his monks to rise before dawn to pray in the dark, waiting in faith and hope for the daily coming of Divine Light. Keeping Vigil is one of the necessary components of our monastic life. Praying in the night reminds us to watch for Christ’s coming in death and for His coming at the end of time. One day, of course, will be our last. Each morning as we keep Vigil, waiting for the sun to rise, we can wonder if this is the day the Son will come and take us to Himself. A question worth asking each day is, if you knew this was your last day would you do anything differently? It reminds me of a saint (can’t remember who?) that was asked what would you do if you knew that today was your last day. He response was “I would sweep the floors like I do every morning”! We never seem ready for death yet we are always ready…vigilant for the Light of the World to come.
We just celebrated on the feast of the Annunciation, Mary’s own experience of Divine Light piercing her heart and soul. The week before, we celebrated her husband, Joseph, who also encountered this Light but in the form of instruction and direction.
A place to reflect today would be to recall one of the greatest experiences in your own life where you came in direct contact with the Light of Christ. What were you doing? Were you like the blind man sitting idle in darkness? Or like St Benedict caught up in prayer? Or like St Paul walking along the road with negativity in his heart? Or like Mary who may have been doing household chores, as Mary Ann suggested in her meditation this week? Or maybe we were even like St Joseph who was sleeping?! …Where were you when the Light came to you?
Secondly, what effect did it have on you? Was it like St Benedict in experiencing transcendence; or like St Paul in experiencing conversion? Or was it like Mary who received Jesus Christ within her; or like Joseph who received guidance and insight? Perhaps it was more like the blind man who simply deepened in faith? What effect did the Light have on you?
...so today’s gospel gives us confidence and boldness. Let us ask Jesus to remove our own blind spots so that we can not only see the Light but be the Light!