Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2023
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41
The doctor tells me I have slow-growing cataracts in both eyes. Nothing we need to do anything about right now. Down the road I will get them addressed. Because my sight is important to me. Because seeing more clearly is important to me.
And that is why each year I look forward to participating in the series presented by the Interfaith Justice Alliance. Though I relish the opportunity to pray with each of the other three faith communities, and I always learn from the presentations, my favorite part of each evening is the table conversation.
Like the rest of us I have limited experience. I am Catholic, white, female. My family experiences growing up and my personality have all helped shape me. While all of those things have been blessings and given me a great deal, they have also limited me from the experiences of others… experiences that would allow me to see more of life. But at our weekly table dialogue, as I hear the experience of others, I learn. I grow. I see more.
Today's gospel gives us a fascinating cast of characters. Some people refuse to grow, to see what is in front of them. Rather than alienate the authorities, neighbors of the man born blind, refuse to recognize him. Fear keeps his parents from crediting Jesus with the cure. The Pharisees refuse to see Jesus as a man of God because the miracle was worked on the Sabbath against the rules by which they live.
Strangely, it is the man born blind who's vision continues to grow. First, he describes Jesus as simply a “man”. Next he names Jesus, “a prophet” and a man from God. Finally he believes in Jesus as the Son of Man. His vision grows because, unlike the others who believe that they see all they need to see, that know all they need to know, he is open to new information.
It can be risky to grow. It can be scary to have your preconceived ideas challenged. Confirmation bias is real. It is safer to believe that we already see all there is to see. That what we experience as true is the whole truth.
There are those who would even use religious faith as a way to stop growing… those who feel that their religion calls them to hate or discriminate against people different from them, because of their color or sexual orientation or beliefs.
Jesus identifies himself as the Light of the World. And the light he gives… the light by which we see accurately, is a light of justice and mercy, inclusion, forgiveness, healing. Our spiritual growth requires letting in more of his Light.
His closing words to the Pharisees in today's gospel are important for us. "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see’, so your sin remains.”
by: Pat Schnee