March 25, 2014 // Uncategorized

Do you believe in the Son of Man?

“In the Easter liturgy, the light of the paschal candle lights countless other candles. Faith is passed on to another, just as one candle is lighted from another,” says the encyclical “Lumen Fidei” (“The Light of Faith”) from Pope Francis. Pictured are worshippers holding candles during the Easter Vigil at St. Jude Church in Mastic Beach, N.Y. In Bishop Rhoades’ column this week, he writes, “By opening our eyes to faith, to the light that comes from God, Jesus continues to cure us from the darkness of confusion and sin present in the world.”

On our way to Easter, we walk along with those who are preparing to receive Baptism as we prepare to renew our own baptismal promises. On the Sundays of Lent, the liturgy takes us on a kind of baptismal journey through the readings of John’s Gospel. In this past Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus promised the gift of “living water” to the Samaritan woman. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we will hear the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. It is another amazing story with deep and profound meaning.

Jesus met the man blind from birth on the streets of Jerusalem. He anointed the man’s eyes and sent him to wash in the nearby pool of Siloam. The name “Siloam” means “sent,” symbolizing Jesus as the One sent by the Father to wash away the sins of the world and to purify us through the waters of Baptism.

The blind man obeyed Jesus’ instruction and was cured of his physical blindness. But that was only the beginning of the story. Jesus was intent on doing infinitely more for him — to bring him to a greater light, the vision of faith in Him as the Light of the world. Jesus gave this blind man physical sight so that he would come to see with the new eyes of faith the truth about Him and about life and its destiny. As Jesus once said: I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).

After the blind man received the gift of physical sight, he encountered the Pharisees. The Pharisees confronted him, asking him how he was now able to see. They told him that Jesus was not from God because He did this cure on the Sabbath. The man still insisted that the one who cured him was a prophet. The Pharisees then sent for the man’s parents who testified that he had been born blind. But the parents were afraid and told the Pharisees to question their son about the man who opened his eyes.

The Pharisees again questioned the man who had been born blind, insisting that Jesus was a sinner. They ridiculed the man and accused him of being a disciple of Jesus. The man rejected their assertion that the one who cured him was a sinner. The Pharisees then threw him out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard about this, He came to the man and asked him: Do you believe in the Son of Man? This is truly the climax of the story. The man answered: Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus told him that is was He. The man then said: I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped Jesus.

Notice the journey of faith of the man born blind. At first, he didn’t know who Jesus was. Gradually, he came to recognize Jesus as a man of God, a prophet, then as the Son of Man. He now not only had new physical sight, but spiritual sight. The light of Christ had penetrated his heart. A whole new world opened up before him when he said: I do believe, Lord.

By opening our eyes to faith, to the light that comes from God, Jesus continues to cure us from the darkness of confusion and sin present in this world. He gives us His light to purify our hearts and to renew our Christian love. He gives us God’s light. In Lent, we confess our blindness, our shortsightedness, and especially our pride, that sin which blinded the Pharisees from seeing and accepting the truth about Jesus.

Through Baptism, we received the light of Christ. We will remember this in a dramatic way in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil. But after Baptism, we can fall back into darkness because of our sins. That’s why we have this season of Lent, a time of conversion and spiritual renewal, to live our true identity as children of light.

At the end of the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus reveals to the blind man whom he had healed that he had come into the world for judgment, to separate the blind who can be healed from those who do not allow themselves to be healed because they consider themselves healthy. We can all be blinded by selfishness and pride. Jesus continues to cure us from this, like He cured the blind man. He does so in the Sacrament of Penance. And His light illumines us in the celebration of the Eucharist.

I mentioned that a whole new world opened up to the blind man when he professed his faith in Jesus and worshipped him. He entered into a new relationship with God by following Christ. The same happens to us. We learn to adapt our life to the will of God and to bring Christ’s light to our neighbors. When we discover Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, our lives are changed. The Lord teaches us wisdom and fills our hearts with love, if we but open ourselves to Him.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us imitate the man born blind by embracing and worshipping Christ, the Light of the world!

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