Thursday, March 31, 2011
Exposed by the light
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Fourth Sunday in Lent—A
1Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
For the second Sunday in a row this Lenten season, we have a lengthy, intriguing, and exceedingly rich Gospel passage from John focusing on our call to conversion in Christ. Last week, the symbol of living water was employed to signify new life in Christ. This week, it is primarily light—or more specifically, the gift of sight.
Just as with the Samaritan woman last week, the nameless blind man in today’s Gospel is gradually drawn into a deeper recognition of Jesus’ identity. As he is questioned about his newfound sight, he first refers to his healer as “the man called Jesus.” Later, he calls him a prophet. Still later, he recognizes him as a man from God, and finally, after being excommunicated from temple worship, he converses with Jesus, confesses his faith in him, and calls him Lord.
Here, there is a progression of faith that will be signified in a very visible way during the liturgy for the Easter Vigil. At that time, the Easter candle will be lit from a fire outside the darkened church, and then lead us inside as we exclaim “Christ our light. Thanks be to God.” One flame gives light to all, and the church’s interior is illuminated for the celebration of the Easter mysteries. Gradually, we are led into the light. Once in darkness, we become children of light through Christ, the Light of the world. This is the good news we celebrate each and every Sunday and proclaim each day throughout the year.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, are moving in the opposite direction. Arrogant in their own self-appointed light, they gradually move into the darkness, unable to see or believe in the true light of Christ. Ironically, having cast out the man who was blind, they become blind themselves and end up outside the illuminated church.Rather than rejoicing in the blind man’s newfound gift of sight, they judge, condemn, and ridicule. They cannot see beyond appearances—their own preconceived notions of what constitutes true sanctity.
As we move this Lent toward Easter, we must each ask ourselves: “Which direction am I headed?”
In the words of the priest as he lights the candle at the Easter Vigil, “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”