Open Our Eyes
Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A (19/03/2023)
(1Samuel 16:6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41)
By Fr. Samuel Odeh
In today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Samuel, the prophet is sent by God to the house of Jesse of Bethlehem to choose a new king for Israel from among Jesse’s sons because God had rejected Saul, the reigning king at the time. However none of the seven sons of Jesse that were presented to the prophet met God’s approval. God was not interested in outward appearance: “.. for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart”. God instead chose the youngest of Jesse’s sons, David, who was outside keeping the sheep, and the prophet anointed him king over all Israel. According to human standards it would be wrong to choose someone considered a child for a man’s job, but God did not see it that way. The lesson here is that God chooses his servants according to their hearts. King David was later described as a man after God’s own heart. God’s eyes and the eyes of believers must judge human character and the things of this life by a standard of faith, love and justice also, and not only by standards of beauty, education and learning or of power and authority. We must ask God today to open our eyes to see as he would have us see the things of this world, ourselves and his person as he truly is. The responsorial psalm today declares God as a shepherd who cares and provides for his servants in the work he has called them to do: “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”.
In our second reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, the apostle describes the Christians of Ephesus as being no longer darkness but as having become light thanks to their acceptance of Christ Jesus. He charges them to walk as children of light. We all know how important light is to the human eye, to seeing; without light our eyes cannot see clearly. The apostle is actually referring to the behavior and choices of Christian believers: “.. for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true…”. For a Christian, the standard that gives light is the Cross of Christ Jesus; to walk in the light means engaging in unselfish self sacrificing acts of love, thanks to a firm belief in the unconditional love of God the Father for us.
This is the point Jesus makes in today’s gospel reading from the Gospel according to John. He is the light of the world because through Jesus, all people come to see the true face of God. When his disciples asked him why the man he later healed was born blind, Jesus does not deny or accept that it was sin that caused it, but points out that the encounter with the blind man was an opportunity for God to work a miracle for him. It is a question we are tempted to ask also. Why do some people suffer disabilities? Why do bad things happen to good people? We are also meant to see a reference to Christian Baptism in the way the blind man is healed. Jesus anointed his eyes and sent him to wash in a pool of water and he received sight for the first time in his life. In the ritual of Baptism a candle is lit and presented to the candidate who is told to “Receive the light of Christ!”. Since ancient times the newly baptized are described as having been “enlightened” by Christ. Some equate enlightenment with civilization, an “opening” of the eyes socially and culturally. With Baptism a phase of enlightenment begins in the life of a Christian. The religious authorities in today’s gospel reading reject the witness of the miracle worked by Jesus because it broke Sabbath rules and, they end up expelling the man who had received his sight out of the synagogue. Jesus located him, even as an outcast, outside the synagogue and introduced himself to the man born blind. Christians must remember that those who are unable to join in full fellowship and communion in the Church are special and dear to Jesus if they continue to believe. Outside the synagogue, the man born blind declared his faith in Jesus when he asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of man?”. “Lord, I believe”, he said, and worshipped him. Today let us ask Christ to meet with us as he met with the man born blind. May we be guided by the light of Christ to see the love and truth of God as it truly is. May the Lord bless his words in our hearts, amen.