If I was this blind man in the Gospel, I’d be downright ticked-off at God! So let’ pretend for a minute I am that blind man. (put on sunglasses)
I was just sitting here, minding my own business, sitting
with all the other blind men at the entrance of the Temple begging – just like
I do every day… then I heard somebody ask a question that caught my
attention: “was this man blind because
of his own sin or the sin of his parents?”
My ears perked up – I’ve wondered the same thing my whole life. See – it seems to me that… I was BORN blind,
so there’s no way I could have sinned to deserve this, so it MUST have been my
parents. You know – I’ve never really
forgiven them for that.
But the answer I heard confused me. There was another man – It was a voice I
didn’t recognize, but I could tell he
spoke with authority – He said I WASN’T blind because of sin. What?
Not because of sin?! Everybody
KNOWS that blindness and physical ailments are signs that God is punishing
somebody for sin… So why else WOULD I be blind? I could hear that voice coming closer as he
continued… this man is blind “so that the works of God might be made visible
through him”. Are you kidding? I’ve spent 30 years blind – begging every
day – starving half the time - and not only that, but think of what my parents had
to go through: Every time anybody looked
at ME – they looked at my parents and said – They MUST be major sinners. There were shunned by society. And now you’re telling me that this was all
some scheme that God cooked-up to allow Jesus to restore my sight today…. Just
so he could work some ‘hocus-pocus’ to impress the crowds!?? Sorry, Jesus – but if that’s the kind of
God you represent, I ain’t buying. The
God I know should PREVENT this kind of suffering. The God I know should provide healing as soon
as my parents asked for it… not 30 years later!
God is NOT supposed to CAUSE this kind of suffering!
When I got over my indignation, I got to thinking about what
Jesus said… he said I’m not a sinner!... well.. I AM a sinner, but no more than
anybody else! My blindness was not a
sign of my sinfulness. That’s
Also – I’m actually kinda excited about the fact that I was
part of Jesus’ plan. He planned from the
beginning that I would be a central part to helping people to believe in
him. The more I think about it – that is
soooo cool. My blindness and MY healing
will be read about in churches for centuries to come and my blindness and my healing
will help people to believe in Jesus. I
can’t think of a greater privilege.
(sun glasses off)
I wish it was dark outside.
Or - I wish we could do these readings on Holy Saturday night. If you’ve never been here for the Easter
Vigil service – you need to try it out. You know – a lot of people don’t go, because it
lasts longer than normal, but it is THE most beautiful liturgy of the whole
year. That is the night when all of our
Lenten fasts are end, so we can eat ice cream .
That is the night when Jesus is risen.
That is the night when we baptize and confirm our new members into the
Church. But I want to talk about the
Liturgy – what we DO at that Mass, because I think it sheds some light on our
Picture this: we
start the liturgy with a campfire outside – sounds weird, right! We START Mass with a campfire – but there are
no hotdogs involved. We bless the fire
and the new Easter Candle. See this
candle back here – that’s the Easter candle from last year – it’s getting kinda
short. Well, at the Easter Vigil is when
we get a NEW Easter Candle. This candle
represents Christ himself. Why would we
use a Candle to represent Jesus? Even in
today’s Gospel, Jesus told us “while I am in the world, I am the light of the
world.” We say in our creed ‘God from
God, Light from Light, true God from true God’.
Jesus IS our light.
So we bring that new Easter candle into the darkened church
– symbolizing Christ coming into the world which is in darkness. Now there are actually two symbols here –
first – do you remember what the first thing was that God created in
Genesis? What did he say? “Let there be Light”. LIGHT was the first thing God created. Imagine being there when it happened… total
darkness and then BOOM…LIGHT! Must have
been amazing. Later, Jesus was born in
the darkness of a cold December night.
December just happens to be the time of year with the shortest days…
that’s the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere – so once again, God
was bringing light to a world in darkness…and that’s what it’s like when we
bring that candle into the dark church.
It gets even better though… like I said, all the lights are
off – and Each person in the church has a candle and lights it from the Easter
candle – symbolizing that each of us receives our light from Christ. We receive our faith from Jesus! If Jesus was not in the world, there would BE
no source of Faith. The fire is then
passed down the rows from person to person – symbolizing that we pass-on our
faith from person to person until… until the whole church is lit with the light
of Christ… symbolizing what the world will be like once we have all spread the
light of Christ to every corner of the globe.
Do you see how this connects with today’s Gospel? This man born blind represents you and
me. All of us are born in darkness – in
other words – none of us is born knowing Christ. We don’t have the light of faith yet. Now – notice the different stages of the
journey this man took. At first, when
they’re questioning him, he says, ‘this man, Jesus put mud on my eyes and made
me see’. Later when they’re questioning
him he says, this man is surely a prophet.
Still later, he comes to the conclusion that He must be from God,
because only someone from God could make a blind man see. Did you see the progression? First Jesus is just a man, then he recognized
him as a prophet, then ‘from God’.
Finally, after he’s thrown out of the temple, Jesus meets up with him
and asks – do you believe in the Son of Man…. And the man believes and worships
him as God… THE God. God from God, Light
Our Catechumens have been on a journey for months now –
going to classes, opening their minds and hearts and eyes to try to understand
more about our Catholic Faith – and more about Jesus himself.
Their journey – and ours - are much like the blind man’s
journey. We are born in darkness – not knowing
Jesus. It’s a lifelong process of
getting to know him. At some point, we
all must let Jesus open our eyes so that we can look into the light… and then –
just like the candles at the Easter Vigil – we CATCH FIRE! Then we SPREAD that fire to everyone we come
in contact with. We BECOME the Light of
Christ…. So that the Glory of God may be revealed – through US.