On His journey to Jerusalem – the journey to the Cross, Jesus came upon a blind beggar boy. Jesus anointed his eyes with mud and told him to go and wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. The young man did as he was told and returned from the pool able to see for the first time in his life.
On this Sunday, we have, not a parable, not a story, but an actual encounter that Jesus had during His Public Ministry. This healing was the sixth of seven miracles proclaimed in the Gospel of St. John. It was intended to show us that Jesus is the Light of the World, and the one who gives Light to our darkness.
In contrast to the ex-blind man’s journey from darkness into total light, the Pharisees in today’s Gospel move in exactly the opposite direction. There was nothing wrong with their physical sight; but there was everything wrong with their spiritual insight – they were spiritually blind. Quick to judge and eager to condemn Jesus because He had cured on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could read and understand the Old Testament law, but they could not see beyond it. They rejected Jesus’ call to life and wholeness because in their opinion, Jesus broke the Sabbath law – He cured on the Sabbath. Their closed minds were a result of their closed eyes. Unlike the young man begging in darkness who emerged into light; the Pharisees had eyes but could not see.
Today the Church throughout the world celebrates “Laetare Sunday” (which means) “Rejoice Sunday”. How can we rejoice with the fear of all that’s happening in the world. Because of the Corona virus, many people in our society feel they do not need God. For these, God has long been replaced.
The society we worshipped is falling apart. The things we value most are now in ruins. A small mysterious virous has toppled the idols that were once thought so important to us. It has brought us to our knees; yet many people still insist that we do not need God. Even the Church and its Sacraments are considered a possible occasion of contracting the virus – so many did not return to Mass.
Especially in these times, the Church cares for each one of us. She established the world’s first hospitals in the Middle Ages. Down through the ages, amid plagues and pestilence, we find the church in the midst of suffering, ministering to the infected – despite great dangers. We need to ask God to come to our aid – who provides consultation and hope in our moments of darkness. We are not alone in these dark days – God is with us.
When we were baptized, we were brought into union with the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. Without Him, we live in the darkness and yet, we continue to have blind spots in our lives – because we do not fully receive Him – who is the Lord and Giver of life and light.
This Season of Lent is a time of renewal – a time of restoration. As we prepare to celebrate Easter, each one of us needs to strive to renew our hearts in the light and life of Christ. The Savior who healed the man born blind in the Gospel today is ready and willing to heal our blindness no matter what form it takes.
We have been given the gift of Lent that we might identify our blindness and seek God’s healing. In Lent, we are encouraged to ask for the gift of seeing ourselves as God sees us, turning our backs on the darkness, and walk in the light of Christ.
When we were born, we entered a world filled with darkness. We were like the man born blind: but the Gospel today is dealing with more than physical blindness – it deals with more than the man born blind – it deals with the Pharisees who were blessed with sight, but they could not see. They could read the law – they were religious, but they failed to personalize their faith – to let their faith influence their lives so that they truly lived their faith – not just pretended to live it. For them, faith consisted in fulfilling a number of laws so that God would have to grant them salvation. Their faith was empty, and they missed the point.
On this “Laetare” Sunday, the Church is calling each one of us from our darkness into light. Our salvation is not a game. It is not found in a book, it is not found in a cult, it is not found in this or that priest or minister; it is found only in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Church which He personally established when He was personally present here on earth. We cannot find eternal fife if we grope for it in the darkness. To have eternal life, we must turn our backs on all that is darkness and sinister and walk boldly into the light.