Let us pray!
God let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, always be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Help me to always be mindful that You hear every word that comes out of my mouth. Make me quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Fourth Sunday in Lent Laetare Sunday, Mothering Sunday, St. Joseph’s day
Psalm 23 – The Divine Shepherd
John 9:1-41 A Man Born Blind Receives Sight
bible.oremus.org. (n.d.). oremus Bible Browser. [online] Available at: https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=544242083 [Accessed 20 Mar.. 2023].
Walk in the light.
We are not creatures with very keen vision in darkness, that is why electric lights were invented. Today we explore a different kind of darkness – that of the Spiritual kind and our spiritual blindness when we cannot understand or accept God working in our lives to bring light and understanding to the eyes of our hearts.
In the gospels the Authors record two types of sayings Jesus used to illustrate the kingdom, the first was the Parables, teaching his contemporaries how to live in the kingdom. This is what Paul alludes to when he speaks to the Ephesians. To do as they have been taught while there is still time – still light.
The other was the Sign – which is how the Evangelists describe it.
In our Scriptures today we read of a Sign the story of the Physical Healing of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-12) … It is the 6th Sign, it is a special type of sign, more than just a street sign or road sign.
Altogether there are 7 signs: in John.
- Turning Water Into Wine (John 2:1-12) …
- Healing the Nobleman’s Son (John 4:46-54) …
- Healing the Man at the Pool (John 5:1-11) …
- Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-15) …
- Walking on Water (John 6:16-21) …
- Healing a Man Born Blind (John 9:1-12) …
- Resurrecting Lazarus (John 11)
Seven was symbolic in ancient near eastern and Israelite beliefs and writings. It conveyed a sense of “fullness” or “completeness” “seven” is spelled with the same Hebrew consonants as the word “complete/full”. This makes sense of the persistent appearance of “seven” patterns in the Bible.
The biblical Sign
To qualify as a biblical sign, (semeia) the event had to be done in public. It had to be an event where Jesus performed an action that controlled or altered the expected or natural norms of Creation. Something only God could do. Only God could restore the sight of one born blind.
The man born blind is seated beside the road begging prompting the Disciples to ask Jesus whether it was his sin or his parent’s sins that caused him to be born blind as though there might have been a former incarnation when the man had sinned. Some Jews of the day believed in Reincarnation or the pre-existence of Souls.
There are some nowadays who believe that a person deserves what they receive and that a disability is a form of punishment. Even today we use phrases such as: “Serves him/her/them right.” Some of us mock those who are different as if they are inferior to us, it makes us feel good to think of ourselves as better off or more righteous than others.
Jesus was very quick to set his disciples straight – that man was born blind, not because of any kind of sin but rather that God’s glory might be revealed through him.
Jesus then tells his disciples that they must do the works of the One who sent him while it is still light because no one can work at night. That as long as he is in the world, he is the light of the world. Whether the disciples understood Jesus was telling them he would not always be in the world, we don’t know. Jesus then bends to pick up some soil, spits on it to make mud and anoints the man’s eyes.
Jesus is reminding the disciples and anyone else watching that God created humans from clay, and just as God created humans Jesus is healing a human with mud. Ancient people believed saliva had healing properties.
“Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent)” As the man was being led across town by a guide there must have been many opportunities for that guide to tell people what was happening and what was hoped for, so the event wasn’t a secret, private affair.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel (Wikipedia Contributors, 2019) supplied the pool of Siloam, which was located outside the walls of Jerusalem and utilised for ceremonial immersion and the cleansing of pilgrims travelling to the Temple.
And so, the man immersed himself in the waters and washed and was healed. The man born blind was blind no more! The disciples should have recalled the healing of Naaman who was sent to the river Jordan to bathe 7 times. If they didn’t the Signs are there for the readers in the Post Resurrection Church such as Ephesus and for us to understand.
The man’s neighbours and those who knew him were unsure that he was even the same man. If the pool of Siloam represented baptism for the man, as in New life, perhaps that is why he appeared different. Another reason might be that he had not washed in such a long time that he appeared different. We have received the sacrament of Baptism, either as a child or adult and belong to the Body of Christ; is our life with Jesus such that others recognise something different about us? We are sent out into the world to do as Jesus did, just as the man was sent to the pool. Do we do what we are sent to do – the will of the One who sent Jesus?
The man was called to the Sanhedrin because the Pharisees wanted to investigate this sinful deed for It was a Sabbath when Jesus healed the man, making mud for any reason was considered work – even healing was considered to work and Jesus had broken the Sabbath (the seventh day) doing so and therefore must be a sinner.
The Pharisees didn’t believe the man had been born blind and interrogated his parents to determine whether this man was their son and had been born blind. They passed the buck to their son, who was old enough to answer for himself. They were afraid to say anymore because those who believed Jesus was the Messiah were excommunicated. They didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah and didn’t want to be mistaken for a disciple. They believed in their religion and did not want to be deprived of it.
“How is it that you can see”, the Pharisees asked the man “Jesus made mud which he spread over my eyes, and he sent me to Siloam where I washed in the pool, and I received my sight.”
We know the palaver they went through in their attempt to make the event go away they were looking for any reason to discredit Jesus and if possible, to be able to declare that it was all fake, the man had not been born blind.
Then the words of the man himself -. ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never, since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God; he could do nothing. The man was expelled (excommunicated) from the Temple and went looking for Jesus.
The contrast between light and dark is again brought to our attention those with the light of their eyes refuse to accept the miracle while those whose eyes were dark can now believe. Jesus who is the light of the world has healed the man of his blindness while those who say they can see remain in Spiritual darkness.
In the encounter between Jesus and that man, it is established that Jesus is indeed the Son of man, God’s Son. The man believed; he became a disciple. If we were not always disciples, what has made us so? What was our Epiphany?
Once we were spiritually blind, but now we live in the light of belief. the fruit of that light is found in all that is right and true. Through prayer and daily living, let’s discover what pleases God; we possibly believe that we have secret sins that are unutterable. But, once revealed by the Light, through Reconciliation, become visible, and in their turn become light.
There is nothing, apart from our Ego’s preventing us from using this remaining time in Lent to reconcile ourselves with ourselves, with any enemies or relatives we might have issues with, to reconcile ourselves with God and look forward in excitement to celebrating the One who is the light of the world and who made the whole world day by offering himself as a sacrifice, as remission for our sins.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Today’s Gospel describes the reason for our joy: God’s great love for us has been revealed in Jesus. Through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Christ has reconciled us with God and one another.Loyola Press. (n.d.). Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle C. [online] Available at: https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/liturgical-year/sunday-connection/fourth-sunday-of-lent-cycle-c-sunday-connection/.
Mothering Sunday is a day honouring mother churches, the church where one is baptised and becomes “a child of the church”, celebrated since the Middle Ages in the United Kingdom, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries on the fourth Sunday in Lent. On Mothering Sunday, Christians have historically visited their mother church—the church in which they received the sacrament of baptismipedia. (2023). Mothering Sunday. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday#cite_ref-Diller1990_1-1 [Accessed 20 Mar. 2023].
Saint Joseph’s Day
Saint’s day Date: Sunday, 19 March 2023Wikipedia Contributors (2020). Saint Joseph. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Joseph.
Saint Joseph’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Joseph or the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and legal father of Jesus Christ, celebrated on 19 March. It has the rank of a solemnity in the Catholic Church.
getdrawings.com. (n.d.). Simple Light Bulb Drawing at GetDrawings | Free download. [online] Available at: http://getdrawings.com/simple-light-bulb-drawing [Accessed 20 Mar. 2023].
English: Faithful reproduction of the painting ‘Healing of the Blind Man’. [online] Wikimedia Commons. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Healing_of_the_Blind_Man_by_Jesus_Christ.jpg [Accessed 20 Mar. 2023].