Fourth Sunday of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
March 10, Man Born Blind (Readings from Year A, Scrutinies)
Who is it that cannot see?
It’s pretty obvious the main theme of the gospel is blindness and sight. Most of us recognize that many of the characters in the story fail to see.
The Pharisees fail to see Jesus as Messiah; they are blinded by their own interpretation of the law that does not allow for mercy or charity on the Sabbath.
The disciples who asked “who sinned” fail to see; they cannot see more in God than reward and punishment, fault or blame.
The neighbors fail to recognize the blind man healed; they cannot see God interested and active in the lives of the people.
The blind man’s parents fail to see out of fear; they fail to witness to the miracle Jesus performed for if they acknowledge Jesus they will be expelled from the synagogue.
There are many different reasons for the blindness, for the lack of sight and insight. And while many are blind, not all are evil.
I consider the case of my own father. He was a plain, honest and hardworking man, a loving father, a good husband. A group of friends from his high school days were getting together one night a month to volunteer and cook at a homeless shelter. He joined the group and spent most of those evenings passing out parmesan cheese, going around to the tables to sprinkle cheese onto the plates of chili mac that this high school group served to the homeless men. In conversations with the men he served, my father discovered his own blindness and misperceptions. He came to see the men he served were men just like him, yet men deserving of something better. From that day till the day he died, my father took time to volunteer; helping to buy, cook and serve the monthly meal at the shelter, delivering food and sorting canned goods at a church’s food pantry, stopping by K-mart to buy new socks and underwear (items often requested by the men at the shelter.) He did not see this as something big. But it was something big because it was something that changed his life. My father may not have been born blind, but he gained new sight because of the evenings he worked at that shelter.
What caused his blindness? I’m sure part of it was due to family. I’m sure part of it was due to upbringing and the misconceptions with which a society brands the poor. I’m sure part was ignorance, part was fear and part was a lack of attention or consideration. Whatever the reasons, my father’s ability to “see his blindness” was his opportunity to choose new sight. And that choice, well that’s where the miracle of grace and free-will combine to change a life, to leave sin behind whether it be personal or societal.
So I ask you to consider the story of the blind man once again. Consider whether you might be like one of the characters in that story. Then consider asking Jesus to give you new sight. My father was always grateful to see what he had missed. May the grace of new sight and the grace of gratitude for new sight be yours this Lent.
Fr. Pat Quinn, S.J. is the Campus Minister in Griesedieck Hall.