Homily for the fourth Sunday of Lent

Year A  -  John 9:1...41


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.  He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, saying to him, «Go, wash in the pool of Silo'am» (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.  The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, «Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?»  Some said, «It is he»; others said, «No, but he is like him.»  He said, «I am the man.»

"They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.  Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.  The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, «He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.»  Some of the Pharisees said, «This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.»  But others said, «How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?»  There was a division among them.  So they again said to the blind man, «What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?»  He said, «He is a prophet.»  They answered him, «You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?» And they cast him out.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, «Do you believe in the Son of man?»  He answered, «And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?»  Jesus said to him, «You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.»  He said, «Lord, I believe»; and he worshiped him."



Homily:


"As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.  He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay, saying to him, «Go, wash in the pool of Silo'am» (which means Sent).  So he went and washed and came back seeing."

Today, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Church rejoices and sings "Laetare!", "Rejoice!"  For we have arrived at the midpoint of Lent, and the time of Easter and the Lordís Resurrection is near!  The time is approaching when Christ will make "all things new" (Rev. 21:5) ; as Saint Paul says, "Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed." (Rm. 13:11)

The time of the Resurrection of the Savior approaches:  Jesus testifies to this himself by giving sight to this man who was blind from birth!  For, in the eternal life, the Savior wants us to see him not only with the eyes of the soul, but also with the eyes of the body!  In fact, the Church was founded on the Apostles whom the Lord chose, so that they might see him with their own eyes and thus render testimony about what they had seen and heard.  And we who are now living, we too saw and heard those who taught us our faith, this faith that has been passed down to us from the Apostles of the Lord!

This is why Saint John begins his first epistle, which serves as an introduction to his gospel, in the following way:  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us -- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us." (1 John 1:1-3)

What allowed the man who had been blind from birth to receive his sight was his obedience to the command of the Lord:  "He said to him, «Go, wash in the pool of Siloam» (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing."  In order to see God in our eternal life, it is necessary for us all to pass through this trial of obedience, the obedience of faith, of which Saint Paul speaks (cf. Rm. 1:5)  Moreover, if Saint Paul speaks of this obedience of faith, it is not only because the Holy Spirit inspired him, but primarily because he himself underwent this trial of obedience, when he suffered from a kind of blindness after having seen and heard the Lord for the first time.

Indeed, Christ, as if to anticipate his Return in the end times, appeared to Saint Paul in all the splendor of his glory and power. This apparition of the Lord was such that the future Apostle became blind, and said:  "«Lord, what do You want me to do?»  Then the Lord said to him, «Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.»" (Acts 9:6)  Later, Ananias, a servant of the Lord, "laying his hands on him said, «Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.»  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.  Then he rose and was baptized." (Acts 9:17-18)

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, «Do you believe in the Son of man?»  He answered, «And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?»  Jesus said to him, «You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.»  He said, «Lord, I believe»; and he worshiped him."

God wants to save the whole man!  He doesn't want to save only his soul, but also his body!  And if a miracle is necessary in order to save the body, the Lord won't hesitate to grant it if this will allow the soul to be saved as well.  This is precisely what happened to the blind man.  For, having seen Jesus with the eyes of the body, the man who had been blind believed in him and his faith gained him salvation:  he worshiped the Lord, and he thus testified to the humility of his soul and to the presence of Godís grace in him!  For him, what was accomplished in the soul was manifested in the body!  For - let us repeat it - God wants to save the whole man, his soul as well as his body!

Eternal life is at our door!  All Jesus asks of us is our obedience to his command!  Now, what is this command of God?  What must we do today in order to obey God?  The answer lies in this Sundayís gospel:  "It was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes."  We must therefore obey God on our Sabbath day, that is to say on Sunday!  It is necessary for us to carry out God's command for the Sabbath:  to sanctify the day of the Lord!  This is what we are going to do, with Godís grace, during the course of this eucharistic celebration!  May Mary help us to thus obey the Lord who comes!