March 19, 2023
The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
(Note: This Gospel is also optional for Years B & C with Scrutinies.)
Readings for Today
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, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. John 9:35–38
This is the conclusion to the story of the healing of the man born blind. It is the fifth of seven signs (miracles) in John’s Gospel that point to the divinity of our Lord. This healing especially confirmed Jesus’ teaching from the previous chapter: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus was the Light Who came to dispel all darkness, and now He illustrates this fact by opening the eyes of the blind man. This story is quite long and detailed. The details it includes makes it much more than a miracle. It is also a dramatic story revealing both the consequences of rejecting Jesus, as well as the blessings received by one who turns to Jesus in faith.
We begin with the detail that this man has been blind since birth. It was a common misconception at that time that such a birth defect might have been caused by the sins of the parents. In part, this came from a misreading of Exodus 20:5–6 in which God said that He inflicts punishment “on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation.” Jesus makes it clear that this was not the case; this man’s blindness was a result of the natural disorder experienced by humanity as a result of original sin. If humanity had never been cast out of the Garden of Eden, disease and natural disorders would have never existed. For that reason, we should understand that we are all “blind” in the sense of being born into the state of original sin and are, therefore, in need of the grace of spiritual sight.
The healing of this man is done purely on Jesus’ initiative. This shows that God’s healing action in our lives is always His initiative. But Jesus clearly offered this man healing because He knew the man would eventually come to faith in Him, which is the far more important healing that took place in this story.
After the man is healed, a very interesting drama unfolds. The Pharisees hear of the healing and begin to interrogate the man. Afterwards, they also interrogate the man’s parents and then the man for a second time. Throughout their interrogations, two things happen. First, the Pharisees slowly become more agitated, more irrational and end by completely rejecting both this miraculous sign and Jesus Himself. The man, however, begins with what appears to be a bit of ignorance about Jesus, but as he is interrogated and challenged to explain his healing, he deepens and clarifies his convictions, ending in the deepest faith when he cries out to Jesus, “I do believe, Lord.” Then we are told that the man worshiped Jesus.
The dramatic unfolding of this story teaches us that when we are given the grace of God by hearing His holy Word spoken and witnessing His mighty hand at work, we must make a choice. Either we will respond in faith and slowly be drawn deeper into that faith, or we will rationalize it away and reject God’s saving action in our lives. It is not possible to simply remain indifferent to the Gospel when we hear it spoken or when we see its effects changing us or others.
Reflect, today, upon the two paths this sign from Heaven had on those present to this miracle. You, too, are present to this miracle through your reading of it. How will you respond? Will you imitate the Pharisees and discount the deep spiritual truths this action conveys? Or will you open yourself to the transforming power of this healing? Commit yourself to the path of this blind man. Say to our Lord, “I do believe, Lord.” Apply those words to every action of Jesus in your life and allow that faith to lead you into worship of Him Who is the Light of the World.
Jesus, Light of the World, You came to dispel the darkness caused by original sin. You came to heal our blindness and open the eyes of our souls to Your true Light. Please open my eyes so that I may see, and give me the courage I need to profess my faith in You and worship You with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.
40 Days at the Foot of the Cross:
A Gaze of Love From the Heart of Our Blessed Mother
Reflection Twenty-Three – The Sentence of Death
(Fourth Sunday of Lent)
Saint Joseph Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In 2023, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph is transferred from March 19 to March 20 since March 19 falls on a Sunday.