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Saturday, March 21, 2020

2020-03-22 4th Sunday of Lent

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9
(I was supposed to preach this homily at the mass after the Knights of Columbus retreat. Since mass was cancelled, I am posting it here as a supplement for the retreat. The slides used at the retreat is here.)

The Knights of Columbus had an afternoon retreat earlier and the topic was about Seeing the Glory of God. It is quite fitting that the Gospel reading today is about a blind man being healed. At the retreat, we spoke of three steps to see the glory of God: first is to see Jesus, to observe him. After observing Jesus, we recognize him for who he is. Lastly, we accept Jesus as he is. We can use these three points in the readings today. The Gospel speaks of a man born blind whom Jesus healed and as we read the chapter, we see a gradual improvement of the man’s understanding of who Jesus is. After he was healed, his neighbors ask him how his eyes were opened. The man replied The man called Jesus made mud spread it on my eyes and said to me "Go to Siloam and wash". At this point, Jesus was a man to him.

Then the Pharisees ask him how he received his sight. The man again told them about what Jesus did. The Pharisees condemned Jesus and in response, the man said how can a man who is a sinner perform such signs? The Pharisees ask him what do you say about him? The man replied he is a prophet. From being a man, the man born blind now considers Jesus as a prophet. The Pharisees called the man’s parents and ask them whether this man is their son. They admitted he is their son who was born blind, but they told the Pharisees to ask the man on how he was healed as he is old enough.

The third time the Pharisees ask the man to give glory to God. This is a way of commanding him to tell the truth. The Pharisees continue to force the man who was healed to reject Jesus and the man replied I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to be his disciples? Now, Jesus is more than a prophet. The man considers Jesus as Master. The Pharisees say We do not know he comes from. To this, the man replied here is the astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from yet, he opened my eyes… Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

Here, the man brought the discussion to the beginning, meaning since creation. And he concludes Jesus is from God. With this, the Pharisees drove the man out of the Temple. We look at the gradual progression of the man's knowledge of Jesus. He called Jesus a man, then a prophet, then implied Jesus as a Master and finally he spoke of the beginning, concluding Jesus is a man from God. Then he stopped.

We also see that as he gets to know Jesus, those who were around him started to withdraw from him. At first it was his neighbors. Then his parents. Now, since he was driven out of the Temple, he was also deprived of his God. Yet, it is at this moment, when he was physically driven out, that Jesus appears to him and asks: Do you believe in the Son of Man? The man answered who is he sir? Tell me so I may believe him. Jesus replies: You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he. The man said Lord, I believe. When the man has lost everything, even his access to his God, the Son of God appeared to him and revealed himself fully. This man, saw Jesus, he slowly recognized Jesus and now, he accepts Jesus.

One of the things we can pick up from this is when we think things are bad, when we lost everything, when God seems absent, it is then, that God is revealing himself. This revelation requires that we accept Jesus as he is, not as how we think he should be. The first reading tells us about how God corrected Samuel’s preconceived idea of God’s chosen. We too need to learn to leave our preconceived ideas behind and accept Jesus as he is. And when we do, we worship him in Spirit and in truth. He will be a Shepherd to us, leading us through the darkest valley of our sufferings and fears towards peace. This is what St Paul says in the Second Reading, that once we were darkness, now in the Lord, we are light. This Lent, I invite you to go to confession. Confession is the light that shines on our sins. St Paul said in Ephesians 5:13 all things that are reproved are revealed by the light: for all that is made manifest is light. God forgives us, takes our sins, our failings, and transforms them for his glory and for our good.

If you have something in your heart, perhaps some bad news for yourself or for someone you hold dear, or are confused about your life, or searching for peace, or think God cannot forgive you, or think God has abandoned you, LISTEN: God loves you unconditionally and calls you to come and see his glory. Tell Jesus to come to you and show you his glory. You may have to go through whatever it is you have to face, but know this: he is with you and will lead you through your situation to glory. Jesus revealed himself to the man he healed when the man had nothing left. Jesus is in the midst of your situation, revealing himself to you. All you need to do is surrender to Jesus.

Look at Jesus. Recognize it is Jesus in your midst. Accept Jesus as he is. Then you will not only see the glory of God, but God himself.

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