The Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Lent revolves around this question: What does it mean to really see? In this gospel, Jesus heals a man who has been blind from his birth (John 9:1-41). After his healing, the man is dragged before the crowds, the Pharisees, and the leaders of the Jews, where people demand an explanation of what has happened to him. Three times he is forced to tell about his healing. What unfolds for the Gospel’s hearers is the man’s faith; he becomes stronger with each interrogation. He is beautifully articulate each time. As a result, it becomes clear that the spiritual sight of the man, that is, his faith, has been intact all along. His physical healing allows him to proclaim his faith in God openly and boldly. It eventually allows him to gaze on Jesus, God incarnate, and worship Him at the end of the Gospel. 

At times, God allows us to go through periods of darkness. These can be illnesses, whether physical or psychological, relationship difficulties, or another type of suffering. At those times, we might feel abandoned by God, like we are left alone in the darkness of our trials.  Instead, this Gospel invites us to see all those trials as opportunities to grow in faith and to grow closer to God in the midst of suffering.

Place yourself in the shoes of the blind man. There was no reason for him to expect that someone would come along and heal him. Yet, there was no bitterness in him. He was not angry with God that he was born a blind beggar. Also, notice that once he is healed, things get harder for him, not easier. He is put on trial three times and thrown out of the synagogue by the Jewish leaders. It was worth it, however, because he gave witness to God’s power and goodness despite his life of suffering and now banishment. In the midst of his suffering, his spiritual sight, his faith in God, grows and grows. 

Today’s first reading from the first book of Samuel is also a lesson in spiritual sight (1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a). Samuel is sent by the Lord to the house of Jesse, to anoint one of his sons to be king of Israel. Looking at Jesse’s sons, Samuel guesses erroneously as to which one would be chosen. God informs Samuel: “…the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Eventually David is brought forward, the youngest of all Jesse’s sons, and he is the one anointed. Samuel was schooled in the way God judges the heart of each person. What is exterior is of little importance. It is the inner heart that matters. 

The second reading for today gives words to the interior transformation from darkness into light: “… for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” This is a transformation possible for each person; it is a transformation that is expected of all the baptized. In the gospel, it was symbolized by the miracle of sight, a physical change from darkness to light. Here, in Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul uses the images of light and darkness to talk about walking in the light of faith (Ephesians 5:8-14). Instead of a physical change, there is a change in the way Christians think, feel and act. They are not afraid of the light, that is, of being known, because they live in the light of Christ all the time. When the blind man bore witness to God in his healing, he gave a wonderful example of faith and walking in the light.