4th Sunday of Lent Year A 2014:
First, let me just say happy Laudate Sunday to you all. You may notice that I’m wearing the pink vestments today (call them Rose if that makes you feel better). We do that because of today’s entrance antiphon that starts: Rejoice Jerusalem. This pink vestment is a sign that we are already halfway through Lent. Easter is only 3 weeks away. So, the pink vestment gives us hope in the midst of our Lenten penances, but also reminds us that we have 3 good weeks left to prepare ourselves to celebrate the feast of Easter.
Today in the gospel we hear of the encounter of Jesus with the man who was born blind. Right away I find something very interesting about this story. Notice the first thing the disciples ask Jesus “who sinned?” Seems like a strange question. Clearly the disciples recognize that this man’s condition is one of profound difficulty. This man bears an affliction, for he is deprived of sight. Because of this, he would have experienced much suffering in his life. But, the disciples assume that someone must have sinned, someone needs to be blamed for this man’s condition.
How does Jesus respond? Neither him nor his parents are responsible for his condition. He was not born blind because of someone’s sin. Many times when people are going through a tough situation, they will say to me, “I think God is punishing me.” It’s the same attitude in the gospel, bad things happen because God punishes sin. But, I don’t think God works that way. I think it is true that we are often judgmental and vindictive, but I don’t think God works that way. God does not cause evil. Why was this man born blind? Why do we suffer? Why do bad things continue to happen to good people? We still want answers to these questions. When faced with the problem of suffering, sadness, grief, mourning, blindness, and death, we want to know why this happens. Who sinned, who’s to blame?
No one in particular is to be blamed. We live in a broken world. The man born blind reminds us of this fact. We inherit a certain brokenness, a blindness. We go through suffering and pain. But, this is not the end of the story. Our Father in heaven looked with mercy on us, and sent his Son Jesus to take away our blindness, to heal our brokenness. He came to give us sight. The story of the gospel is really our story, because when we were baptized Jesus opened our eyes. He invited us to understand that while we might live in a broken world, he came to bring us healing. Even though we might suffer and die, Jesus came to give us strength and to lead us to everlasting life.
But, this doesn’t happen all at once. Notice that the man born blind was healed by Jesus, but when asked at first, he says that Jesus is a prophet. Yet by the end of the story, he calls Jesus Lord and worships him. Even though he was enlightened by faith, he continued to grow in his faith by his worship of Jesus.
We have been enlightened by faith through our baptism. But, we also grow in our faith by our worship. Here at the Mass we have a chance to worship Jesus, to receive the Holy Eucharist, to grow in our faith. Like the man born blind in the gospel today, we all experience the brokenness of this fallen world in one way or another. But, enlightened by faith that comes through baptism and strengthened by our worship of Christ in this Holy Sacrament we can find in Jesus the one who can take away our blindness, the one who can bring us healing and peace.