Sunday Reflection_4th Sunday of Lent 2020
The gospel story for today begins with an interesting question: the disciples ask: has the man who was born blind sinned (and thus caused his own blindness) or have his parents sinned? Jesus answers “neither”. When a child is born with a disability it is a common response among people to wonder if God is punishing the parents for some kind of “sin”. But Jesus makes it clear that it is not a punishment; God does not act that way.Most of the gospel text then concerns itself with the question of whether or not the man was really born blind and whether Jesus’ making a paste to put on his eyes was breaking the Sabbath prohibition against work by doing so. In the end Jesus identifies himself to the man as the one who gave him sight, and the man responds with an act of faith in him as the Messiah. At that moment he saw who Jesus was more clearly than most of Jesus’ disciples.
When God gives us new sight we see things we never saw before. I can remember being challenged by this during my first year as a priest. I was studying French at the University in Grenoble and there was a very beautiful young woman from California in my class. We often talked during the breaks and one time she told me how she got up at 5 AM each morning and read the Scriptures for an hour and then the writings of Mary Eddy Baker for an hour. Mary Eddy Baker is credited with being the founder of The Church of Christ, Scientist. She wrote a great number of religious books. Her key insight, as this girl told me, was: Life in and of the Spirit; this Life is the sole reality of existence. I said to her: I admire your faith and I don’t want to question it, but do you ever wonder if that is really true? She then told me how when she was 12 she fell off her bike and had a compound fracture of her arm; she could see the bone protruding through the skin. Her mother wanted to take her to the hospital because her mother’s faith was not strong, but she insisted that her mother first phone her father because she knew his faith was strong. He came home from work, bandaged her arm, stayed home from work for a week and prayed. Her mother was worried about gangrene developing and pestered her father to let her take the girl to the doctor. The doctor unwrapped her arm and asked her mother why she had brought the girl. Her mother explained how the girl had broken her arm and the bone was sticking out. He said that he saw no sign of a break, but he would take an x-ray to make certain. He showed the x-ray to her mother to show her there was no sign of a break. So, the girl said to me, how could I doubt? She saw God and the world in a new way.
God’s healing power can come to us in many ways. I have met many people who have been healed by God in an almost miraculous way, like the girl from California. And when they came to recognize that it was God who healed them they saw not only God but also the world in a whole different way – much like the blind man in today’s gospel who recognized that Jesus was the Messiah.
As a young priest I was asked to give a Day of Recollection to a group of 18-year-old girls. I immediately recruited two mothers to help me since I knew nothing about girls of that age. I told the mothers that I wanted to use the Beatles song: Til There Was You (made popular in the film “76 Trombones”) as the theme for the day. I was hoping that as the girls reflected on their young lives they would see how God had been present in their lives, loving and healing them at different moments, and so could be confident that God would always be there for them.
At our closing liturgy we sang the entire song, and I noticed that there were tears in the eyes of some of the girls as we sang the last stanza:
There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No, I never heard it at all
‘Til there was You.