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Accepting Challenges
And Struggles Of Faith

Homily 03 30 2014
4th Sunday of Lent - A

Homily 03 30 2014
4th Sunday of Lent - A

View the Readings for this day

This story that we have just heard is long and complex, and simply wonderful. John is a great storyteller, but a storyteller with a purpose. As you might suspect, his purpose is not simply to entertain us. But it might come as a surprise to know that his purpose is not simply to instruct us either.


Rather than imparting a lesson to be learned, this Gospel presents us with a mystery to be explored.

Jesus is inviting us to experience a whole new world of how God works and how faith works.

The way that John the Evangelist tells this story is not merely to present an event of Jesus life for us to look at as outsiders, but to engage us in the event from the inside. So let's explore it for a few minutes.

Let's look first at what Jesus does.

Doesn't it strike you as odd that, of all the gestures he could have used to heal the blind man, he used mud made with his own saliva?

And yet, having just said that he must do the works of God in a way that they become visible, he imitates the gesture by which God created humankind, out of the clay of the earth. In fact, the name given to the first human, Adam, is a Hebrew word for clay, just as the very word "human" comes from the root of the Latin word "humus," meaning earth, rich fertile soil.

Then, having recalled the original creative act of God, Jesus tells him to go and wash in the pool, a clear reference to the rebirth, or re-creation, of baptism. The name of the pool, Siloam, which means "sent" or "the act of sending forth," indicates that this miracle concerned not merely the physical functioning of the sense of sight, but a vocation to a completely new life.

And so, what about the blind man? One of the striking characteristics of this story is that he never asked to be healed. Nearly all the miracles of healing that Jesus performed were in response to a plea for healing made either by the person in need or by someone who loved them.

Here, there's every indication that the man was simply sitting probably by the gate of the Temple square in Jerusalem, tin beggar's cup in hand, with people around him talking about him.

Jesus takes the initiative, and it suggests that he's not just moved out of compassion for this man's plight, but out of compassion for the blind and needy condition of the whole human race, which the blind man has come to symbolize.

In fact, strange as it may seem, this healing may not have been all that welcome on the surface of things.

We don't know the details of the blind man's life before this moment, but we do know that, immediately after the restoration of his sight, his troubles really began. He was grilled mercilessly by the Pharisees, and even his parents refused to support him in his story.

He didn't ask to have all this happen to him; perhaps it was more than he bargained for. At first, his reaction to those who questioned him had the tone of "Go away, don't bother me." He really didn't know who had healed him: it was just "the man called Jesus."

But after the Pharisees started to become increasingly persistent and antagonistic in their questioning, the man's faith seemed to grow as he took hold of the situation, and confronted them more and more bravely. And in the end, the man born blind was able to say simply to Jesus, "I do believe, Lord."

In his journey of faith, do you see a parallel with us? Sometimes, what appears to be good is really detrimental - and when God saves us from that, isn't our first reaction to complain that we didn't get what we wanted, even though God desires a final outcome greater than we could ever imagine or seek, an outcome which we can only trust in faith?

Similarly, can we allow that the hardships and tragedies that we neither understand nor welcome can be stepping stones along a path that will ultimately lead to restoration and fulfillment.

The path of the cross is the road to glory.

The example of the man born blind assures us that union with Christ in his cross does not mean merely passively accepting evil and suffering, but actively responding in faith to the challenges and struggles of our lives in collaboration with the God who is the creator of all good, and with Jesus who restores goodness and wholeness to creation.

As I said at the beginning, this is a story to be explored, not merely read or even studied. I'd like to invite you to continue to explore it during the coming week.

A man who visited one day in a classroom for visually impaired children. Troubled by what he saw, the man remarked, insensitively, "It must be terrible to go through life without eyes." One little girl quickly responded, "It's not half as bad as having two good eyes but still not being able to see."

Her point was well made. There is physical blindness, and there is another, even more tragic form of blindness that affects the spirit.

Both forms of blindness are present in today's Gospel reading.


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Mass Schedule

Saint Aloysius
Tue - Fri - 8:30am
Sat - 5:00pm
Sun - 10:30am

Holy Days
8:30am & 7:00pm

First Friday
8:30am followed by Adoration until 7:55pm

- After weekday Mass
- Before Sat & Sun Mass
- Mon - 3:00pm

Sat - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Or by appointment

Our Lady Of Lourdes
Sun - 8:30am

Before Sunday Mass

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Saint Aloysius
211 West Mason Ave.
Buckley, WA 98321
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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Office Hours
Tue - Fri 9am - 12:00pm

Our Lady Of Lourdes
506 Ash Street
Wilkeson, WA 98396
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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