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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

4th Sunday Lent A

It must have been quite an experience for the man blind from birth to see the sun, the trees, houses, animals, people!

But nobody bothers asking him about it. The gaining of physical sight does not seem to be the issue.

So what is the issue? Don’t forget we are in John’s Gospel. John loves to play on two different levels. To see Jesus, to recognize Jesus as the one sent by God to be Light of the world or to be the Shepherd who leads us on life’s journey (the psalm of today), for that more than the physical ability to see is required.

What is required is a conversion of the heart, a seeing with the eyes of the heart (in John’s Gospel ‘seeing is believing’), a giving oneself over to the one that is sent by God. That is something the man born blind succeeds in. It is something the other players in the story cannot get themselves to do. The contrast between the man born blind and the other players is striking: his neighbours abandon him, his parents remain sitting on the fence, the Pharisees expel him from the synagogue. But what really counts is that the man born blind lets himself be “found” by Jesus, the Light of the world. If anyone could sing the hymn “Amazing Grace”, it is the man born blind: ‘I once was lost, and now I am found; I once was blind, and now I can see.’ What is given the man born blind is not just physical sight, but the gift of faith. It is captured in the closing lines of the story: “When Jesus found the man, he said …” (verses 35-38).

Our having come together here suggests that we want to be the man-born-blind who comes to faith in Jesus. A faith that makes us pray:
Jesus, you are our light,
You are the lamp that shines before our feet
so that we may no longer stumble along in darkness, but see.
Jesus, give that I may see,
(in the words of the second reading), shine on me,
free me from the works of darkness,
enlighten my darkness,
so that we may be children of the light.
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