Gospel Reflection – Fourth Sunday of Lent
Malvern Minute

 

MARCH 26, 2017

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Verse Before the Gospel

I am the light of the world, says the Lord; 

Whoever follows me will have the light of life.

 

THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST.  JOHN 9: 1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.  We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.  Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—  So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”  Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”  He said, “I am.”  So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”  He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’  So I went there and washed and was able to see.”  And they said to him, “Where is he?”  He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.  Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath.  So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.  He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”  So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.”  But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?”  And there was a division among them.  So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”  He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.  They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind?  How does he now see?”  His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.  We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.  Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”  His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue.  For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise!  We know that this man is a sinner.”  He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know.  One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”   So they said to him, “What did he do to you?  How did he open your eyes?”   He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen.  Why do you want to hear it again?  Do you want to become his disciples, too?”   They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses!   We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”  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.  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.”  They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

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, the one speaking with you is he.”  He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.  Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”  Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

In this year, the three Sundays of Lent before Palm Sunday, the Gospel is taken from the Gospel according to Saint John..   The Gospel passages act as an intense reflection on the God-given gift of faith, the ultimate capacity to see, and the responsibility that each of us has in being open to this gift and contributing to its growth.

This Fourth Sunday of Lent focuses on the fifth Sign of the miraculous power of Jesus – the cure of one born blind.  There is only one place in the Old Testament that tells of someone being cured of blindness, and that person, Tobit was not born blind (Tobit 14: 1-2).  Therefore, today’s event is a very dramatic moment in Salvation History.

Saint John very creatively makes use of symbols and images to convey the deep meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The time of day, year and the moment of one’s life referred to in the Gospel stories is used by Saint John to mean more than just the hour on a clock, or a day on a calendar or a moment in the life of a person.  When John refers to time, he is talking about the special, unique, personal encounter one has with God through Jesus Christ, the Lord!  Last week we heard that the time of day when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink was noon.  But for the Gospel, noon is the time of the Crucifixionthe moment of Salvation for the whole world. Today’s Gospel identifies the time as the Sabbath.  But again, for the Gospel, the Sabbath is not just a Saturday on the calendar.  It is the Lord’s Dayso that the works of God might be made visible through him (the blind man). The New Sabbath is the Day of Salvation – the Lord’s Day of Eternal Light!

This week our attention is shifted from a Samaritan Woman to a young blind man.  Again, Saint John provides a story that reveals the deeper meaning of blindness and sight.  The Church very deliberately refers to the Baptized as the Enlightened Ones.  We have been enlightened in Baptism by the gift of sight that faith alone can give.  Therefore, we can soundly assume that this story is not just about physical blindness or physical sight.  On Holy Saturday night, at the Vigil of Easter we will ritualize, that is act out the deeper meaning of this story by gathering in darkness and joyfully lighting the Easter Candle, the symbol of the Resurrected Christ who is the Light of the World!  Christ is our light; we can see God in Christ because of the gift of Faith.

Jesus explained that the blindness was not the result of sins of the blind man’s parents or him.  The blindness will be the time, moment for the demonstration of the Glory and Power of God.  The purpose of the miraculous Sign is not to provide mere physical sight.  Jesus will gift the blind man with the vision of faith!  The Pharisees have physical sight, but they choose to be blind by not recognizing God in Jesus Christ.

Like last week we were taught that Faith develops over the length of one’s life time.  It is through daily encounters with Christ in His sacred Word and Sacraments, especially the Eucharist that one’s sight grows keener.  We need Lent and its accompanying disciplines of prayer, fasting and alms given.  By this, we come to see Jesus more clearly as the Prophet Messiah, the Anointed One of God for the salvation of all!  By are openness to believe, and by our practice of faith, we are moved by faith to join the blind man and fall to our knees and worship Jesus Christ as LORD!I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him!

Is the Lenten Season are you seeing Jesus more clearly in the Word & Eucharist being proclaimed and celebrated at Sunday Mass?  How might you seize or create opportunities to intensify your personal relationship with Jesus?  Have you been reading a portion of the Gospels each day during this Lenten Season?  Remember ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Jesus!

Remember man, you are dust, and to dust you will return! 

                             Have a grace filled Lent!

ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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