Mar. 26, 2017: 4th Sunday of Lent A
Click to hear Audio Homily
How well do you know Jesus? How can you tell if someone knows Jesus well? A man named Bill went through a life-changing religious conversion two years ago was eager to tell his friend Tom about his awesome experience of accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Tom was skeptical of Bill’s conversion, so he decided to test his friend’s newfound faith. “Tell me, Bill, what country was Jesus born in?” Bill replied, “Uhhh, I’m not sure.” Tom asked, “Tell me, how old was he when he died?” Bill replied, “I’m not sure.” “So you don’t know much about the man you claim to accept as your Lord and Savior?” Bill replied, “I’m ashamed to say that I know very little about him. But what I do know is that a couple of years ago, my family was falling apart with my alcoholism. My kids wouldn’t even look at me. But after finding Christ, I gave up drinking and tried everyday to be the best husband and father. Now my children eagerly await for me when I return from work. I don’t know Jesus too well, but that’s what the Lord has done for me.” What we can learn from the story is that knowing Jesus is not so much about learning facts and figures about him, as it is about being permeated by the love of Christ, allowing oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit, and grafting one’s own life onto the tree of life -- the Lord’s Cross.
The conversion that Jesus brought about in the man’s life is much like how he gave true vision to the man born blind in our Gospel today. The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" But Jesus replied, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus anointed the blind man’s eyes with spittle and clay then asked him to wash himself in the pool of Siloam. Paradoxically, the man’s congenital blindness revealed Jesus as the true light of the world and showed the spiritual blindness of the world.
Just as our baptism removed the darkness of original sin in our souls and enfolded us in the eternal light of Christ, the blind man, was healed and given clear vision--not only physical vision but a spiritual vision with the gift of faith to recognize Christ before him. His newly gained vision was contrasted with blindness of the Pharisees. They claimed to know a lot about God, but sadly they could not see God in the flesh in front of them because of their pride and arrogance.
Whether we know it or not, all of us here have been given a miracle--a miraculous vision to be able to recognize God and to be in relationship with him through our baptism. In the second reading, Paul reminds us, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” We’ve been given a great privilege to be able to see the world through our faith. Yet, this privilege comes with a responsibility, to make a choice to live our lives differently than how people in the world live. Pope Francis reminds us:
“You have to come to know Jesus in the Catechism - but it is not enough to know Him with the mind: it is a step. However, it is necessary to get to know Jesus in dialogue with Him, talking with Him in prayer, kneeling. If you do not pray, if you do not talk with Jesus, you do not know Him. You know things about Jesus, but you do not go with that knowledge, which He gives your heart in prayer. There is a third way to know Jesus: it is by following Him. Go with Him, walk with Him. One cannot know Jesus without getting oneself involved with Him, without betting your life [on] Him. Everyone must make his choice.” (Pope Francis)
We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind-spots -- in our dealings with friends, in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, especially, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray earnestly, “Heavenly Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly.”