A neurologist commented on the story of the man born blind who was cured by Jesus. He said that when people born blind receive their sight after surgery, they can’t immediately act like sighted people. Even though they might know the feel of a telephone, they can’t identify it on sight. They also have to learn depth perception – they would walk into walls, because they can’t process what they see. At first they might think they could touch a lamppost that’s a block away. Or, they would knock over a glass of water next to them since it would be closer than they thought.
Some even have to use a cane again, which they used when there were blind, to learn what the things at the tip of their cane now look like. People who were born blind and then receive their sight, need someone to be their guide to help them understand what they see. It takes time for them to adapt to a new world. It’s a process.
The man in the gospel story today, who was cured of his blindness, goes through the process of a different sort. We are not told about the first steps he went through when he first received his physical sight. Instead, we learn of another process he went through. The process the gospel describes is a process each of us can identify with, for it narrates how the man grew in his spiritual sight – how he learned about Jesus and how he gained vision .
After his cure the blind man went back to the familiar world he had known of his family and those who knew him. But Jesus had entered his life and he was forever changed. There was no going back. Even though, he was repeatedly challenged, even threatened, because of what had happened to him. Not everyone understood what had happened to him, he was so changed. He had washed in the pool that Jesus had sent him to, the pool of Siloam.
There was no going back. This once blind man, who had been on the edge of society, now stands up to respected religious authorities. "One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see." He cannot be shaken, or intimidated. He knows what has happened to him; he has first hand experience. He not only got his physical sight, but afterwards Jesus came back to him, as a guide, to help him understand what had happened to him.
The man’s name isn’t given in today’s story: not by accident. He is the representative for each woman and man here today. When we were washed in our own pool of Siloam, our baptismal font, Jesus gave each of us sight. Whatever might be the state of our physical sight, we now have a spiritual sight, a vision, that, like the man in the gospel story, has changed and shaped our lives.
What Jesus asks the man, after seeking him out, he also asks us: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he sir that I may believe in him." "You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he." "I do believe, Lord."
All of us gathered here this morning are here because we "see Jesus" – we have been given sight and believe with the man that he is the Lord. But seeing Jesus, having the vision he gives us, isn’t always a cakewalk; isn’t always smooth sailing through life; isn’t always a warm fuzzy. Our baptism, that first gives us the ability to see in faith, doesn’t end by having our names registered in some parish’s baptismal registry."
Like the man we have to navigate the waters of the contrary opinions and hostilities we encounter because of our vision. We may even have to become defenders of Jesus against some pretty strong opinions – just as the man did after his cure. Once the former blind man professes his faith in Jesus everything will change for him. He will see himself and the world around him differently; with the eyes of a disciple. From now on he will no longer see God as punishing him for some supposed-sin he committed; but he will see that God, in Jesus, is reaching out and caring for him.
He will see differently. If he had an enemy’s list from past abuses he suffered, or of people who took advantage of him, he will now have to re-evaluate his stance towards them, even forgive them. He will have to reconsider labels he learned from his family about others. Those labeled as "outsiders, " now he will look at with the new sight God has given him. He will have to see those labeled as useless, the way he once was and welcome them into his life, the way Jesus brought him in. Now he will have to see and reach out to those in need the way, Jesus did for him. Even those labeled by his people as the Roman enemy, he will have to see them and be moved by their blindness, the way Jesus saw and was moved by his blindness.
Today’s story, about a blind man gaining sight, causes us to ask ourselves:
What do we see? What, or whom do we miss? How do we label people – as useful or useless; valuable in our world, or dispensable? Do we see the beauty of God’s creation around us as something to be cherished and preserved for our children and their grandchildren? Do we see our struggles and burdens as opportunities to experience God’s strength and guiding presence?
Finally, with the sight Jesus gives us in our faith, our vision of God is clear. We no longer see God as a distant creator leaving us on our own to work things out, waiting to see how we do. But we see the God whom Jesus reveals to us, who sees our need and comes over to help us.
Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
.. .beside safe waters you lead me. . .
Not everyone lives by safe waters and, as former U.N. Secretary-General Jan Eliasson states, "Water is a precondition for human existence." United Nations’ World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Beginning in 1993, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater each year. This year, the focus of the UN observance is on accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis.
The global campaign, called Be the change , encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water.
For this year’s campaign, the following story is told:
One day in the forest, a fire broke out. All the animals ran for their lives. They stood at the edge of the blaze, looking at the flames in terror and sadness. Up above their heads, a hummingbird was flying back and forth to the fire, over and over again. The bigger animals asked the hummingbird what she was doing. "I am flying to the lake to get water to help put out the fire." The animals laughed at her and said, "You can’t put out this fire!" The hummingbird replied, "I’m doing what I can."
This March 22nd , as you retrieve water from your tap, check out how you can say "I’m doing what I can" regarding water: https://www.unwater.org/bethechange/
To join in efforts to build two clean water wells each year in Uganda, contact Cathedral’s Share the Blessings coordinator, Kevin Green at firstname.lastname@example.org. They target wells for communities where the only source of water is mud holes. As part of the process of requesting a well, a village must commit to maintaining the well and controlling its usage.
Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
FROM TODAY’S GOSPEL:
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered and said, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he." He
said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, "I came into
this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who
do see might become blind."
We can not predict, or define God’s saving presence in the world. The Pharisees couldn’t imagine that God was present in Jesus, or that the blind man could discern the presence and actions of God better than they could. God is bigger and greater than any of us could imagine. The more profound darkness is to claim to have all the answers. Adapted for our purposes, this Lent we might pose the blind man’s question this way, "Who are you Lord, that we might believe?" For we always are in need of more sight – more light on the "subject!"
SO, WE ASK OURSELVES:
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
Many people say that we need the death penalty in order to have "justice for the victims."
But so many family members of murder victims say over and over that the death penalty is not what they want. It mirrors the evil. It extends the trauma. It does not provide closure. It creates new victims… it is revenge, not justice.
Killing is the problem, not the solution.
----Shane Claiborne, Death Penalty Action's Advisory Board Chairman,
This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131
Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/
On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/
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Thank you and blessings on your preaching,
Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory & Novitiate
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
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