•1 Samuel 16: 1-13 * Ephesians 5: 18-14 * John 9: 1-38•
Weekly Scripture Readings: 4th Sunday of Lent
In preparing this homily I sought assistance from several dictionaries and other sources. I
discovered there is no one accepted definition of blindness. So for the sake of brevity I settled on this definition as a practical solution – “to be blind is to be unable to see.”
Contemporary science has learned more in the last 100 years than was known in all of human history before. We are now able to see that our material world is radically different than it appears and far more mysterious.
Everything we see or touch is simply a form of energy. We are part of a vast energy field. That field is all about us, as well as within us. We are unable to see it, but it is there.
The physical/material world, items like the concrete on which you walk, or the high-rise building in which you live, or airplanes in which you travel may seem solid and firm. However modern physics tells us they are not substantive things at all. They are mostly empty space and a vibrating mass of energy. So too are we. We are unable to see this, but it is reality.
Being unable to see something or someone does not mean that thing or person does not exist. The phenomena we call light is energy. For the most part light is hidden from our eyes.
We cannot see the longer wave -lengths of light such as microwaves or radio waves. We know they exist because we turn on the microwave and the water boils or the radio and hear a distant voice.
We cannot see the shorter waves of light such as x-rays. You fall and injure your leg and an xray is taken. Unseen light waves pass through your body. We see a broken bone.
Matter and energy, the material and the spiritual are essentially the same thing. Hope, joy,
peace, love are not hard, substantial things that you can pick up or weigh. They cannot be seen. We might be inclined to deem these less than real and say they are just feelings or simply states of mind. In reality they are configurations of energy as surely as our physical/material world. That which seems mysterious because we cannot grasp it with our hands or see it with our eyes or comprehend it with our minds, may in reality be the most enduring of all.
All of that leads me to John’s lengthy tale about “a man blind from birth.” In response to the question asked by his disciples, Jesus “spread mud on his eyes.” He told him, “go wash in the pool of Siloam.” “He went and washed and came back able to see.”
We are at the mid-point of our preparation for Easter. This gospel text reminds us we are “the man born blind.” The various examples I placed before you illustrate what I mean. I am sure you know there is another form of blindness that afflicts us. We are unable to see the transcendent mystery behind the physical world. So by choice or default, either I avoid the God-issue, become an atheist or agnostic, or open myself to see with the eyes of faith.
John concludes this narrative with a question addressed to the man born blind. “Do you believe in the son of man?” “Who is he sir that I may believe him?” “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” The man responded: “Lord, I believe.”
I have suggested we are “the man born blind.” If you agree than that question is addressed to us. “Do you believe in the son of man?” It may be helpful to rephrase the question. Do you avoid the God-issue? Have you drifted into being an atheist or an agnostic? Or are you engaged in the sort of study and prayer that enables you to see with the eyes of faith? “Do you believe in the son of man?” I presume by this fourth Sunday of Lent that you know your response to that question is about relationship, your relationship with that one person who is more fully human and more fully alive than anyone else I have encountered. His name of course is Jesus.