Have you ever found yourself in darkness; that is physical darkness without any source of light? I believe many of us may have had such an unpleasant experience at some points. If per adventure, you have not had such an experience, attempt closing your eyes for about five minutes and try to walk around your location the same way you would do when you have your eyes open. Afterwards open your eyes and see how far you had gone. This simple experiment will no doubt readily demonstrate the oddity of darkness and the power of light.
Last Sunday, we saw the power and indispensability of water. This Sunday, our attention is directed to Light which is another element we cannot dispense with. In Physics light is known as electromagnetic radiation (wave) that stimulates sight and makes things visible. Light has a lot to do with life just like her twin sister water. Plants, animals and human beings actually need water for survival. Human life without light is generally unimaginable as it takes care of a lot of essential needs and functions from morning till bed time. The importance of light could also be seen in the first two minutes when God began to create as we can see in the book of Genesis (1:1-3).
In the First Reading today, God sent Samuel on a mission to anoint another King in the place of Saul. It is worthy to note that God did not give the name of the would-be King though he mentioned the household of Jesse in Bethlehem which however had many capable sons. God actually wanted Samuel to discover the king not by physical sight but by spiritual insight. Samuel’s initial confusion came as a result of relying on his physical sight. In this way, when he saw Eliab’s physical built he was enchanted and mistook him to be the chosen one. God proved him wrong by indicating to him that God sees not as men do, as He looks at the inside of the person not the outside. Seven of the sons of Jesse could not qualify for the position. It was David, the youngest of them who was not even at home, that was finally admissible before God to be anointed as king!
The First Reading leaves us with so much lessons. In the first place, nobody is indispensable before God. God has the absolute power to hire and fire. God initially chose Saul to be a king but turned around to give God an attitude instead of gratitude; are we not like Saul most of the time? It was based on this that God rejected him (Saul) and made provision for another king. As we saw in the choice of David, God’s way of seeing and acting is different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Like Samuel we often base our judgements on the things we see and like him too, we could actually be wrong. As a child, riding with my dad on a high way I usually noticed a pool of water ahead but on getting to the spot it disappeared. This usually baffled me as I believed that there was actually a pool of water that would always disappear as we got nearer. Much later in life I discovered that what I was seeing then was a mirage. God sees and is more interested in the inner man than in the outer man. This season is actually meant for the growth of the inner man in us.
Last Sunday in the gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ encountered an unnamed Samaritan woman. This Sunday, we are presented with our Lord’s encounter with a nameless man that was born blind. Being unnamed like the Samaritan woman, he could stand for any of us. There is no evidence that the man went to Jesus though he was a beggar. A discussion spontaneously arose between our Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples about the man’s sight challenge from birth; whether it was on account of his sins or those of his parents. Our Lord shocked them by indicating that it was to the make the work of God manifest in him. This statement became more understandable in what followed afterwards.
Beyond the discussion about the cause of the man’s sight challenge, our Lord Jesus advanced to heal the man by mixing spittle and clay with which he anointed the man’s eyes and asked him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Here we have some issues of great interest. This is one of the few instances that our Lord healed by combining matter (material things) form (words). The healing of this man reminds us of the sacraments especially baptism and anointing of the sick where similar matter and forms are used. Our Lord sent him to the pool of Siloam to bring about the completion of the restoration of his sight. It is important to note that the man began to see at the point he went to bathe in the pool of Siloam. Another question could be “who led him to the pool?” Whoever did that represents those who today take time to lead people to the sacraments through instructions and other forms of assistance. I acknowledge here the sponsors for the sacraments.
The man who was born blind had two-fold healing of physical sight and spiritual insight. This is very clear from the encounter he had with the Scribes and Pharisees after his healing. Before his healing we heard no single comment from him, not even “help me?” But when he came back with a restored sight his mouth opened not for gossip but to declare the wonderful work of Christ. He became a bearer and defender of the good news. He did not know our Lord; of course he did not see his healer but he believed that he is a prophet and defended his work as genuine in the face of the doubting Scribes and Pharisees; in fact he called our Lord a Prophet without seeing him physically. However we should understand that his spiritual eyes saw the Lord. While the man’s sight was restored physically and spiritually, those who contended with him with their physical eyes became spiritually blind. Our Lord had already referred to them as blind guides (Matt. 23:23-24).
The man’s ardent evangelism brought about scrutiny of even his parents to attest to the fact he was born blind. Finally he was expelled from the community for defending and professing Jesus Christ. One of his strongest statements which remains classic reads:
Never since the world began has it been heard that one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. (John 9:32)
Here we see a gospel of faith in God of possibilities (Matt. 19:26). Here we see a declaration of the wonderful work of God (Ps.118:17). Upon the expulsion which he took in good faith, our Lord came to him and revealing himself to him and he worshipped the Lord. When people abandoned him even his parents; the Lord did not forsake him (Psalm 27:10); may this also apply in your situation! The light of sight and the light of faith transformed a roadside beggar born blind to an unrelenting evangelist. Here the word of St. Paul in the Second Reading finds resonance:
Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try and learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (Eph. 5:8-10).
This season of Lent is aptly fitting for us to become lights in our darkened world. The world will surely be illuminated with divine grace and good works if only we can let our lights to shine (Matt. 5:16).
Today the Catholic Church in Nigeria celebrates the annual Mother’s day. The place and importance of mothers in the family cannot be disputed. A world without mothers is murderous. The importance of mothers in our society gives them a platform to shine as lights wherever they find themselves. Their duty is as important as that of Eve which is about bringing completeness and perfection; in fact mothers can be described as the ideal finishing touches of the human structure and we know that the beauty of every edifice is anchored on the finishing!
As lights in their families, mothers should demonstrate the life of TRUTH not LIES. They should be truthful and teach their children to be truthful too. Mothers should be lights of FAITH inspiring the family to live on hope even in the face of hopelessness. Mothers should be lights of LOVE and COMPASSION. Mothers should be instruments of PEACE not pieces. Mothers have great powers to build and destroy, to help and to hinder, to encourage and to discourage but they are called upon today to diffuse the right influences. That same power with which Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit is still very much present in mothers till date. Mothers are called upon today to make a difference wherever they find themselves. They should know that the things they do, the choices they make can build or destroy a generation. Often some bad mothers expect their children to turn out to be wonderful in every respect; you cannot reap what you did not sow. Mothers should let their lights shine and also allow the lights of other to shine too.
May we have a very refreshing Fourth Sunday of Lent as we wait in joyful hope for the paschal feast. Have a wonderful week ahead.