4th. Sunday of Lent (A)
(1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41)
In the first reading David, the ‘baby’ of his family, was chosen by God to be anointed King by the prophet Samuel in preference to his stronger and more experienced brothers.
And, in our second reading St. Paul says, You were darkness once.
Thus we can see that God at times chooses men and women for His servants not because of their social standing, natural ability, or personal merits, but rather because He wills to manifest His own mighty power in and/or through them; and that was expressly acknowledged by Our Blessed Lord in the Gospel reading:
(The man’s being blind from birth) is so that the works of God might be made visible (manifest) through him.
God uses human beings! Isn’t that an awful thing to say and even more awful to do! Use people for your own purposes!!
Dear People of God, there are so many today with no love for God who are yet so given to speaking out about what God should have done, what he (he since he is no God for them) should do or, in today’s case, what he should not do!
Our God is good and He made us originally and gave His only-begotten Son up for our salvation because He loves us; and because He loves us He can and does use us for His own good purposes and our own better good.
Notice how Jesus was most urgent about showing God’s good purposes in and through this born-blind man; without pausing even to ask the man whether or not he wanted to see, or if he had faith in Jesus’ power, He willed to begin His work – a fact which showed that Jesus’ main intention was to do something for His Father’s work plan, not something primarily of His own choosing or for the man himself:
We (Himself and the blind man!) have to do the works of the One Who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.
He set about curing the man, not as so often on other occasions with exhortations to faith and words of healing, but by relatively well-known actions (used by local healers etc.) now intended by Jesus to gradually draw the man along with and into His own purposes. He made clay with the help of His spittle from the dust of the earth.
Now God had originally made man from the dust of the earth and Jesus was wanting to show that He – His whole life, indeed, not just this one occasion – was completing God’s creative activity:
My Father is at work until now, so I am at work. (John 5:17)
He then smeared the clay over the man’s eyes to give him hope of healing; and then, to test his faithful obedience, told him– still unseeing! – to go and wash in the pool of Siloam; thereupon his cure would be completed, and God’s work would be completed and most fully manifested in him and through him to all the Jews and Pharisees, themselves so wilfully blind in spirit.
The pool of Siloam recalls for us the waters of baptism; St. John, himself, interprets Siloam as ‘Sent’, referring to Jesus, sent as the Christ for the salvation of the world; and, in Isaias (8:6) we are told that the Jews refused the waters of Siloam, just as they would later reject Christ Himself:
Because this people has rejected the waters of Shiloah that flow gently …
The pool of Siloam (Sent) can still be seen today, filled with water from the Virgin’s Spring.
The man-born-blind obeyed:
He went and washed and came back able to see!
‘He came back’ like the Samaritan cured of leprosy, to see and give thanks to Jesus, but Jesus had gone for the moment, and now was the time for the cured-man to give witness to his Healer.
The Jewish officials repeatedly asked him how Jesus had cured him. At first, not being suspicious of such authoritative and reputedly ‘holy’ people, he thought they wanted to hear again what he had already fully described, in order to rejoice in the wonderful work that had been done:
‘I told you already and you did not listen,
instead you went and troubled my parents:
Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’
It would seem that this man born blind had been regularly taken to the synagogue for worship there and for instruction in the traditions of Israel, since he was in no way overawed by his questioners now, but spoke in reply as one confident in and well aware of his Jewish upbringing and privileges. Now, however, he was beginning and indeed learning fast to see into what he had always before unquestioningly assumed, that is, the authority and holiness of these men addressing him:
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does His will, He listens to him.
Now, in the power of the Spirit of Jesus, he was beginning to show authentic ‘Christian’ credentials, and was indeed risking a great deal by thus standing up for his healer:
They answered and said to him, ‘You were born totally (blind) in sin, and are you trying to teach us?’ Then they threw him out.
Out of the synagogue and out of Jewish fellowship.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him and the One speaking with you is He.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshipped Him.
Dear People of God, notice how God quite amazingly brings the blind man into a measure of co-operation with His own purposes, for the born-blind man actually recognizes why he has been specially chosen by God the Father to witness to the Son He has sent among men:
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this Man were not from God, He would not be able to do anything!
And what was that most important work of God for which the blind-from-birth man was being used? The manifestation of this sublime truth about Jesus:
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
This ‘unfortunate, ill-used, abused’ (according to modern supremely self-righteous critics of God!), this born-blind-man had actually, in fact, had his eyes, as it were lit for the first time, by Him Who was the true Light of the World!! Oh happy man, blessed far more than all those Pharisees and Jews around who could only see things of earth! For his eyes, opened for the first time by Jesus, the Light of the World, were truly seeing eyes, and had led him, to see, recognize, believe in, and worship, the Son of Man and Saviour of the world!
Later God would use the death of Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, likewise (John 11: 4):
This is for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it!
However, our man-born-blind was yet more blessed than Lazarus, even though he, Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, would be raised from the dead; because our man-born-blind was led to actually co-operate in some positive manner with the glorification of Him Who was the Light of the World!
Dear People of God, let God, ask God, to USE you! Many in our Western societies today are so very much aware of their human and personal rights in society … and are thereby often made far too proud and self-centred in their relations with God to ever allow themselves to be used for His purposes. And there are others, of timid spirit, who cannot trust themselves to God’s purposes because they are ever-and-over fearful for themselves.
Both types are so wrapped up in themselves, be it for pride or for fear, that they cannot conceive our central Catholic and Christian truth that God is so good and does so love us that His very using us for His own glory and purposes always and -- humanly speaking one might say, inevitably -- brings us known (now) and unknown (as yet) personal blessings, for our having been humble and brave enough to have allowed and committed ourselves to thus being of use to Him.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy will be done in me for Thy purposes and for Thy glory; and -- of Thine infinite and unquestionable goodness -- for our blessing in Jesus Thy Son, our Lord and Saviour, by Thy most Holy Spirit of Truth and Love. Amen, amen.