The Bishops Homily – 4th Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of Lent
I Sam. 16:1-13
Eph. 5: 8-14
John 9:1-41

INTRODUCTION: Like the woman at the well narrative, today’s story on the man born blind is a masterpiece within John’s Gospel. Both stories convey historical events done so artfully that they convey even after 2000 years the dynamics of spiritual life or the process of conversion. The woman last week seeking satisfaction in the wrong place encounters Jesus as the living water that satisfies forever. Now the man born blind encounters Jesus as the light of the world that gives vision to see things in a new way.

(1) The man is blind from birth. In the Bible, sight is a metaphor for spiritual vision or for faith. One who is in sin does not see clearly. He does not get it. His mind is obscured. Therefore, the man born blind is every one of us, born in the state of original sin. Born like in a dysfunctional family, its members are all affected by the dysfunction. Their wills are twisted and minds darkened. Both living water and now light is a metaphor for grace or divine life. At the creation, light was the first that was brought forth.(Gen. 1: 3) In John’s Prologue, whatever came to be found Life in him which for humans was also Light that shines in the dark, that darkness could not overcome (Jn. 1:4-5) We don’t really see the light by itself. We see things by the light. Jesus is the light by which we see things for what they truly are.

2) How was the healing of the man done? “He spat on the ground, made clay (mud) with the spittle and rubbed the mud on the eyes of the blind man.” (v.6) This gesture is customary of the time. This mixture of mud and Jesus’ spittle for St. Augustine is the mixture of the human and the divine in his Incarnation and forms like a healing salve or balm rubbed into our sin sick eyes like the matter and form used in the sacraments of the Church. What is the point in conversion but to bring people into concrete and lived contact with the healing power of Jesus? Then, Jesus told the blind man: “Go and wash into the Pool of Siloam (which means sent).” (v.7) “The one who sends . . . and is sent” in John’s Gospel is a favorite expression of Jesus to indicate mission. What does “wash in the Pool” mean? To be baptized, dipped into the living Christ, washed in his own blood. In Baptism, the one being baptized is Chrismated, balmed with oil like the blind man in the story who is balmed with the mud and spittle of Jesus and then dipped into the water to be washed. What does this produce in the man? Vision! He finally gets it! He, the baptized, sees!

(3) What is the result of this healing? The people were divided if he was the same man. Some said, “Yes, he is the same man.” Others said, “No but only looks alike.” The man himself said, “I am the man!” (v. 8-9) Yea, it is me alright, using the very same words used by Jesus “I am. . . Ego eimi” as Yahweh also identified Himself in Exodus. The man who has been dipped, baptized in Jesus has become another Christ. Notice how the people reacted to the healing made on the man born blind! Do not be surprised if people react negatively to the conversion of the blind man because when there are enough people converted, change will surely come about. But there is always a vested interest in keeping people in sin or in ignorance. When even a saint or a pope acts differently, people react negatively!

CONCLUSION: Note how the story ends after the blind man is healed! Jesus asked the blind man: “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man replied: “Tell me who he is so I may believe.” Jesus answered him: “You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.” The man said, “Lord, I believe” and he worshipped him. (v. 35-38) The man goes from blindness to spiritual vision! He now gets it and sees! That is our journey in Lent!
Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches