4th Sunday in Lent: Gospel – John 9:1-41

"
Our Blindness"

Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore
on 30th March 2014

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asked the blind man whom He cured, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  “Sir,” the man replied, “Tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.”  Jesus said, “You are looking at Him; He is speaking to you now.”  The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and worshipped Jesus.

In contrast, we have the Pharisees who adamantly and arrogantly insist, that they were not blind” even though they refused to see and could not accept the fact of the miracle that the blind man was cured by Jesus.

Yesterday morning, I presided at the Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass of one of our parishioners.  At the homily, I pointed out that to celebrate a “Golden” anniversary of a wedding is very rare these days; it is as rare as celebrating an ordination to the priesthood.  We know that one of the main reasons for this is because we live in a secular society that is so complex, convoluted and confusing that to make a commitment to someone for life as a spouse and to God in the vowed life of a priest and religious vocation is seemingly impossible.  And, all these are happening because there is little or no depth and maturity our living.  And, when problems arise, we find ourselves too weak to weather the storms of commitment in relationships and fidelity to God.

Take the case of a professional parent who is so caught up in his career that he has little or no time for his spouse and children.  And, one day he hears his son telling him, “Dad, do you want a gay son or a dead son?!”  How would the father who is not emotionally stable face such a tragic question let alone offer any compassionate love to his son especially when their relationship has been superficial over the years?

The Pharisees were emotionally and spiritually blind.  Such blindness is deeper and more serious than any physical blindness.  This is because while physical blindness robs us of our vision of the external reality of life, emotional blindness of self-centredness destroys families and relationship.  Spiritual blindness, on the other hand, being the deepest of all blindness affects our eternal life.  It imprisons us in the darkness of believing that we do not need God in our lives.

The Pharisees who were spiritually blind to Christ as the Son of God may not be too different from many of us who live in our secular world today.  The influences of our secular world that makes our life so hectic and constantly demanding that we deliver, deliver, deliver in all its different forms, if we are not careful, will make us intelligent beings, but beings who are emotionally immature, insecure and incapable of making firm and lifetime commitment.

         

Thus, we as Christians, as are called to heal the brokenness of our brothers and sisters who in their daily living are confused and helpless; and battling to get out of their emotional and spiritual blindness that are turning them into human robots that are able to achieve deadlines and meet targets, but not able to love deeply and build lifetime and committed relationships with people and with God.  We see this clearly happening to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel who blatantly reject the Jesus as the Son of God and choose to live in darkness.

Some months ago, one of our RCIA catechumens, let us call her Mary, not hear real name, expressed spontaneously to me, “Father, when I first came to RCIA, I was very upset with many people in the Church; they seem so unfriendly and rude.  I did not feel welcome at all.  However, over the months of my journey in RCIA, and attending Sunday Masses and reflecting and sharing on the Bible regularly, I began to see that actually, it is me who is the problem; not others.

          

I have been pointing my finger at others because deep within me I had very little peace and it is so easy for me to lose my cool and explode in anger when things don’t go my way.  But, after getting to know Jesus and the Church better, Jesus has changed my life so much that I am so happy with everything in my life.  I can really say that I love Jesus very much and even if the Catholic Church were not to Baptise me, I will look for another Church and get Baptised there, because I love Jesus very much, and nothing and no one can take Him from me.  Now that I know that I am going to be Baptised as a Catholic, I am so happy and cannot wait for the day to come.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, as with Mary, we can see that to reverse the tide of secularism that imprisons us in the darkness and blindness of self-centeredness, we need to return to the basics of our faith.  We need to renew our commitment to love God more deeply and more wholeheartedly.

There is a story of St Francis Xavier who wrote to St Ignatius and his companions before leaving for India.  He wrote, “I want you to write me lots of letters; and since they can only be sent once a year by way of the India fleet, I want you to write me long letters so that it will take me eight days to read them when they arrive in India.”

The story goes that after several years of very hard work in India, one of the Portuguese officials informed St Ignatius that Xavier was working far too hard; that he ought to take things easy or he would surely get sick and eventually not be able to do so much good for the people of India.

St Ignatius, being a good superior then wrote to Francis and told him to slow down a bit, relax and take a break now and then; he was worried about Francis’ well-being.  But, in Francis’ reply he said, “I can’t take things easy, because the world is full of closed doors and I have to open as many of those doors as I can to let the sunshine in.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ, as I conclude, let us ask ourselves, “Will we choose to remain blind like the Pharisees who refuses to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, or would prefer to be more like Mary, our RCIA catechumen or be more like St Francis Xavier who is filled with the zeal to “open as many doors as we can to let the sunshine of Jesus into the darkness of this world?

Today’s Responsorial Psalm tells us, “The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”  And in today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the blind man and asks you and me, “I am the Son of Man” . . . do you believe that I am He?  The blind man responded, “Lord, I believe,” and worshipped Him.  What would our response to Jesus be?

Msgr Philip Heng,S.J.

                                  

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