Gospel of 22 March 2020
Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A
The blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored
As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. He spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man, and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored.
His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one.’ Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ The man himself said, ‘I am the man.’
They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see, he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.’ Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them. So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet’ replied the man.
‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away.
Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.
It’s been exactly one week since our three dioceses decided to suspend public masses. It’s unprecedented, not just here but in so many parts of the world, including Rome. It still feels surreal. We may have questioned the wisdom of our bishops in taking this decision. Some would have asked, “Is there no other way?” and still others who remain in a state of shock or denial.
I guess in such a situation, we all have questions. So many questions and yet we can’t seem to find the right answers. “When will this end?” “Will we ever recover from this crisis?” “When will our churches be reopened?” When the storms of life come our way, when pain suddenly hits, we look to God and the Church for answers. But in the process, are we truly asking God the right questions? Asking the right question can change everything.
You see, asking the wrong questions often leads to more anxiety, confusion and anger. They serve as distractions. Today’s gospel helps us to see that when people are so fixated with a problem, they are often blinded to its solution. The solution could be standing in front of us but we would still have missed it.
I want to assure you that we have already discovered the answer, the solution to our troubles. It is not a vaccine to this virus, it is not an economic solution that would prevent or get us through a global financial crash but a person – His name is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
In the story of the healing of the man born blind so many questions were raised, with none landing on the target. Why was this man born blind? Was it his personal sin which caused him to be blind or was he being punished for the sins of his parents? Did Jesus break the law which forbade work on the Sabbath? Was this man the same blind man that used to beg in the precinct of the Temple? Was this a case of mistaken identity? What would be the cost of admitting that one is related to this man, now the centre of controversy? Would I wish to be dragged into this mess? Perhaps as we listen to all these questions, logical questions, the only question that really mattered was this – “who is the man who healed the blind man?” The other questions are really irrelevant.
The blind man was granted something greater than physical sight – it was the gift of faith. So when all the other characters in the story seem overly preoccupied with their petty questions, the only question which kept coming back to the blind man was this: “who is this man?”
As he suffers the trial of being judged, accused and rejected by the Lord’s disciples, his neighbours, family members and the religious authorities, this man gradually grows in faith and this helps him to refine the answer he has to that question. In the beginning he thinks of Jesus as merely a “man” among others, then when he is questioned, he speaks of the Lord as being a “prophet” and finally, his eyes are opened and he proclaims Him “Lord” and falls down in worship.
But at the end of the story it is Jesus who poses the most important question of all: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” It is not enough that we should get Jesus’ identity right. We need to get our response right. This same question Jesus poses to each and everyone of us. We may have come to Him with our own long list of questions: “Why is this happening?” “When will this end?” “Will the doctors ever find a cure?” “Will I survive this pandemic?” Our Lord’s answer is simple and it is in the form of another question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
Our Lord understands what we are going through now, no doubt about it, and He patiently looks at us with eyes filled with love and compassion as He asks us once again, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And I hope that we would be able to give the right answer, the right response, as did the blind man, “Lord, I believe!” If asking the right question changes everything, giving the right answer also changes everything. What ever storms may lie ahead, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”