Reflection For the 4th Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Our Lord Jesus Christ defined the eye as the light of the body (Matt. 6:22b). So, without the eye, the body is dark. Blindness is a highly limiting physical impairment that impedes our natural human desire to see. “Seeing is believing” is a saying that is highly applicable to our human nature. Recall that Thomas said, “except I see… I refuse to believe” (John 20:25).

Beyond the physical use of sight in our daily activities, there is another way of seeing which is far more important: spiritual sight. No matter how healthy and perfect your physical eye could be, if you lack spiritual sight, you are pitiably blind.

Sighting the Next King of Israel

In the First Reading of this Sunday (1 Sam. 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a), God sent Samuel to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons since He rejected Saul already as the King of Israel (1 Sam. 15:26b).

When Samuel showed up, he saw Eliab, Jesse’s eldest son, a well, built, and handsome man, and in his thought, he said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.” Instantly, God responded to his thought: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart”.

Reading down the narrative, we discover that the son of Jesse finally anointed was David, the youngest and most insignificant in physical appearance compared to others. The point is that the spiritual eyes see beyond the immediate sense perception of physical sight.

The Man Born Blind

In the Gospel Reading (John 9:1-41), Jesus encountered a man born blind. The situation was so vivid that the disciples asked Jesus to trace the cause of the man’s impairment, whether it was his sins or those of his parents. Jesus dismissed the idea of the cause but focused on the end of it, which was to manifest the works of God. How? There is a divine purpose behind some things we cannot change; it takes spiritual see to perceive it.

All the blind men who met Jesus in all the four Gospels received their sights, and this man born blind was no exception. After declaring himself the light of the world and the need to do the work of the one who sent him while it is still day, Jesus healed the man dramatically. He spat on the ground, made clay with saliva, smeared the clay on the man’s eyes, and asked him to go to the Pool of Siloam (Sent) to wash, and he did and came back with his sight.

There was a stir of amazement from neighbors and those who knew the man to be a blind beggar in the area. The Pharisees even stepped in but were more interested in learning who and why the man’s eyes were opened on a Sabbath. They even invited the man’s parents to ascertain if he was born blind and how he came about to see.

After a series of questions and seeing that the formerly blind man stood his ground to defend both the miracle of sight and Jesus, who performed the miracle, the Pharisees threw him out of the Synagogue.

At this point, Jesus met him and asked if he believed in the Son of Man, and he said: “who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Responding, Jesus identified himself as the Son of Man, and the man said: “I do believe, Lord,” and worshipped him. Jesus concludes by saying that he came into the world for judgment so that those who do not see might see and those who see might become blind.

Who is the Man Born Blind?

There is no record of the name of the man born blind. This directly indicates that each one of us represents the man born blind. Yes, we are born with the blindness of sin. But, just as it is difficult for a person born blind to see, our blindness due to sin can’t be taken away except through the intervention of Jesus Christ.

The mission of our Lord Jesus Christ is to bring the divine light that will dispel the darkness of sin and give us the requisite spiritual sight. Jesus mixes sand and saliva to indicate that he cares about the body and soul. The Siloam mission represents the journey to the water of baptism. St. Peter says: “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. (1 Peter 3:21).

Moving Forward:  Understanding the Indices of Spiritual Sight

We have been talking about spiritual sight as superior to physical seeing, but we also need to be educated about the virtues that indicate spiritual sight.

Faith: Spiritual sight shows faith. Notice that the blind man had an unquestioning acceptance of what Jesus did and asked him to do to give him sight because he never had one.

The faith of the formerly blind ma appears here as an act of obedience and submission. Notice again that he also confessed his faith when he said: “I do believe, Lord.” He is contrasted to Pharisees who failed to see and believe in God’s miraculous power, blinded by their pretentious religiosity.   

Relationship: What God wants from us is a relationship that comes from the knowledge of God. Notice that the man did not know who gave him sight, and Jesus had to look for him and introduce himself as the Son of God.

Many often come to God for healing but fail to know the God that heals. Many of us are Church goers with a vague knowledge of God and, consequently, cannot sustain a dependable relationship with God.    

Worship: Spiritual sight constantly leads to sincere worship. The encounter with Jesus, the man who gave him sight, led the formerly blind man to a genuine act of worship. He worshipped Jesus as God because he saw something from that encounter through his spiritual sight.

Witnessing: Following the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the disciples that they would become witnesses (Acts 1:8).

In the narrative, the man testified to the miracle before the Pharisees. He defended the righteousness of Jesus against the stance of the Pharisees, who said that Jesus was a sinner for performing a miracle on a Sabbath. Besides, he called Jesus a prophet and Lord.

Again, we are all born blind. But the good news is that Jesus is still in the business of giving sight to the blind, which is an important part of his mission (Luke 4:18). We have a choice to make today, either to come to Jesus and receive our sight or remain in abject blindness like the Pharisees having the illusion that we are seeing but only unproductive religious observances.   

God bless you!

Fr. Bonnie.

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