I am taking a few days break this week. It is Friday morning and I am sitting outdoors in a rural setting overlooking fields looking towards hills. There are no city noises. The earth is stable. The neighbours have cleared their section and are burning grass. (No, not that kind). The cattle are lowing in the paddock next door. Sounds like a poem.
I have the text of this Sunday’s Gospel open beside me. “The Year A” Gospels of the three central Sundays of the Season of Lent give a clear message about the purpose of Lent and the promise of Easter.
Last Sunday we heard the account of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. She had come seeking water to quench her thirst. Jesus was thirsty too. But within moments they were chatting together about the thirst that is much greater and can never be satisfied by H2O. This woman encounters the divine and the deepest desire of her life has been fulfilled. This life is poured over us in the waters of baptism.
Next Sunday Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from death. In Jesus the power of God works to overcome the reality of death. With Jesus, life overcomes death.
Today Jesus meets the man born blind. Jesus gives him sight. He was blind but now he can see.
Jesus: living water, light of the world, and true life.
Pope Benedict preaching on this Sunday three years ago, reflected on the nature of blindness. He comments that the greatest blindness of all is the blindness a person might have to their own need for healing.
“To the blind man whom he healed Jesus reveals that he has 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 presume that they are healthy. The tendency in humans to construct an ideological system of security is strong: Even religion itself can become an element in this system, as can atheism, or secularism; but in constructing this system, one becomes blind to their own egoism.
Today’s first reading gives us an insight into the true gift of sight: the ability to see with divine vision:
“Not as people see does God see, because people see the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In these few days of vacation I have realized how easy it is to get so caught up in the demands and pressures of daily routine, that we lose sight of that which is most essential. Regular time for rest and recreation (ie: re-creation), gives Jesus an opportunity to restore in us right vision that we might see as we were created to see, that is, with the eyes of God.
In his message for Lent 2011 Pope Benedict comments further:
…the blind man represents Christ as light of the world. The Gospel challenges us to each of us: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”. “I believe, Lord” (Jn 9, 35. 38), said with joy the blind from birth, giving voice to every believer. The miracle of healing is the sign of Christ, along with vision, want to open our inner eye, that our faith is deepening and we recognize him as our only Saviour. He illuminates all darkness in life and leads us to live as “children of light.”