•1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a • Ephesians 5:8-14 • John 9:1-41 4 Lent A’14•
Weekly Scripture Readings: Fourth Sunday of Lent
As people of faith, we live with the conviction that life is a journey into the mystery of God and Christ is the path leading into that mystery. Passed on to us from generation to generation, the life, message and purpose of Christ has been blurred, diluted and encrusted with many clichés and too much pious talk. As a result most of us suffer some form of blindness.
This familiar story about “the man blind from birth” is good news for those able to hear it. So rather than repeating some of the clichés and pious talk about Jesus, I invite you to speculate with me about this text. Let’s try to discover the good news in this story for our own lives.
This story is not mentioned in the other gospels. It is found only in John — a gospel composed fifty to sixty years after the crucifixion. Many scholars agree that the sayings, signs, and characters in John’s gospel are literary images created to draw us into the Christ Mystery. The author’s purpose is not historical but theological. The words and signs John attributes to Jesus, and the characters portrayed in this gospel, have the subtle power of expanding our consciousness and awakening us to the significance of Christ — “the light of the world!”
If the scholars are correct, and I think they are, then “the man blind from birth” is a representative symbol. He and his experience is that of the Johannine community.
That community experienced a profound identity crisis. They had been part of the Jewish community. Now they recognize they have been blind to the mystery of God and the meaning of life. Christ, “the light of the world,” awakened them to a new perspective, a new understanding of God and a new vision of what human life can be. This relativized everything they once had assumed was “truth.”
In Christ they were confronted with a choice. They could evade the light and settle into the known routines of their past, or they could embrace the light and walk with courage into the unknown. The dialogues in this story reflect their interior struggle and choice to walk in the light. “The man blind from birth” also is a representative symbol of all of us. In many ways we may be blind, unable to see and unable to understand Christ clearly!
“I have come that the blind may see!” Some among us have outgrown the faith of their childhood and struggle to live with a shallow understanding of God and/or human life. Some have been treated badly by life. Some feel disillusioned by the institutional church. Some are inclined to abandon something they never understood. These all are forms of blindness! Our national debt soars. Our nation’s infrastructure is decaying. Many can no longer afford to educate their children or provide medical care for sick members of their family. It seems no one “sees” a connection between these concerns and our annual expenditure of nearly 800 billion dollars to maintain our military. This is a form of blindness. “I have come that the blind may see!”
If you no longer feel certain about anything, you may want to consider this. We are the product of our multiple and various life experiences. They shape us into the unique individuals we are. We alone know our own history. We alone can listen to God in the depths of our heart. Each of us must find our own way. The movement from blindness to light, confusion to clarity, and darkness to light is our everyday challenge. It also is our possibility!
“I have come that the blind may see!” Lent confronts you with a choice. You can evade the light of Christ and settle into the routines of life or you can embrace the light of Christ and walk with courage into the unknown. Christ offers you a new understanding of God, a more meaningful way to live and a new vision of what it means to be fully alive and fully human. “The man blind from birth” listened. He did what Jesus told him. He lived his life in a completely new way.