3/23/2017 9:00:00 AM WORD OF FAITH How to walk in the light
BY SISTER ANNA MARIE MCGUAN, RSM
FROM A READING FOR MARCH 26, FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
'Once you were in darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true....' -- Eph 5:8-9
What is striking about Sunday's Gospel passage (Jn 9:1-41) is how Jesus seems to disappear from the action.
In the beginning of the Gospel, Jesus heals the man born blind and then lets the man deal with the consequences. It is almost as if He abandons him -- but the power of Jesus' words and actions sustain the man in his confrontation with the Pharisees.
Twice, the healed man is brought before them, and twice he testifies clearly and courageously what Jesus has done for him. The Pharisees, at a loss for what to do, launch ad hominem arguments at him: "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" Their disgust is palpable. They cast him out of the synagogue. Only then does Jesus return to him -- only after the man has become an outcast because of his fidelity to the truth of God's work in his life.
The Gospel plays with the meaning of physical sight and spiritual blindness: Physical sight is of no avail if you lack faith, if you are spiritually blind. The Pharisees lack faith and are blinded by their own malice. In their eagerness to ensnare the man in his testimony, they completely overlook that a miracle has occurred!
Blind to our faults
The Gospel challenges us to examine areas in our own lives where our emotions and habits have made us blind to what God is doing right in front of us.
Sunday's first reading (1 Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a) teaches us that even those who sincerely seek to know, love and serve God sometimes need to be corrected in how they see things. Samuel, a great prophet, does not always see what God sees. He is sent to anoint a new king for Israel and almost anoints the wrong one.
He is immediately corrected by God: "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
No one has a monopoly on truth or on God's will. Rather, each person must grow throughout his or her life in order to see with faith. This includes how we see ourselves: Do we acknowledge and thank God for our gifts and abilities? If we are fortunate enough to have insight into our own sinfulness, do we take responsibility and go to confession? Do we refuse to acknowledge the good that God has done in us? Do we avoid making reparation for our sins?
Children of light
It is our obligation as Christians to seek this growth, to conform ourselves more and more to truth, and to live the truth through love of God and love for each other. Sunday's second reading (Eph 5:8-14) reminds us of this. St. Paul writes: "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true); try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
Our moral life -- that is, whether we live as virtuous or evil people -- will affect whether we see God's truth. If we walk as children of the light, then we will see things more and more as God sees them, and we will love the same things He loves.
The man born blind understood this and acted on it. He did not let fear or anger get the better of him. He simply walked in the light, and spoke the truth when asked. May we learn from his bold simplicity to live in the light at all times and in all circumstances.