March 26, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
March 26, 2017
Gospel: John 9: 1-41
Fr. George Smiga
The story of the man born blind is our story. It tells us profound things about our lives. And what it tells us is this: We do not always choose to see, and we do not see completely until the end.
The blind man in today’s gospel did not ask Jesus to heal him. Jesus was passing by, saw him, made a paste, spread it on his eyes, and told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. How strange and unexpected this experience must have been for the man who was born blind. An unfamiliar voice from the darkness, a warm and wet paste over his eyes, a command to go and wash without any explanation, and then—light, vision, a new life.
The blind man did not choose Jesus, Jesus chose him. And the same is true for us. Often the most important steps in our lives are not choices we make, but choices we receive. Some of the most profound decisions that make us the people we are, are not our selections, but God’s gift. I can’t remember clearly when and why I first saw the possibility of being a priest, but it was early, while I was still in grade school. Once I saw that possibility I followed it. And look at me today: twenty six years as pastor of St Noel. I couldn’t be happier. Do you remember the first time you saw the possibility to enter your career, when you first thought: I could be a business person, a lawyer, a sports- medicine doctor. You saw it, and you followed it. Look at you now: years in which that career has supported you and hopefully nourished you. Do you remember the first time you met your spouse? I am quite sure you did not select him or her from some catalogue. There was a social event, a chance meeting, and suddenly you saw it. This could be more than what I first thought. Now there are years of shared life, children, perhaps grandchildren. Many of the key events of our lives began, not because we chose to see, but because we saw. They were turning points we did not seek out. They were given. This is the first lesson that the man born blind teaches us.
Here is the second. We do not see completely until the end. When the blind man first received his sight, he understood some things, but not all. It took conversations with his neighbors and opposition from the religious leaders before he could kneel before Jesus and say, “Lord, I believe.” The same is true for us. When we first began our careers or entered our marriage, we understood some things. But vision is only clear in hindsight. Only after looking back on our marriage—a marriage that faced crisis and survived or a marriage that didn’t—only after years of following our career, seeing its blessings and its challenges, do we come to see the people we have become and the people we are. No one sees it all at the beginning. It takes many joys and sorrows, successes and failures before true vision is possible.
And the good news of today’s gospel is this. Jesus is present at the beginning and at the end. He first seeks out the blind man to give him sight, and then he seeks him out again after he is thrown out of the synagogue. This should give us hope, because it tells us that Jesus is not only the one who launches our life, and our career, and our relationship, but he is also the one who returns to complete the vision. Jesus returns to celebrate with us all the gifts that have been given. Or, if necessary, Jesus comes to help us pick up the pieces of a life that has fallen apart.
So if your life has been one blessing after another, today’s gospel asks you to remember that those blessing come from the Lord, and expect the Lord to return at the end to bring those blessings to fulfillment. But if you are a person who feels rejected and lost, like the man born blind, a person who wonders why things which began so promising have all slipped away, then this gospel reminds you that Jesus will find you again. And then you will see everything. Either way, we hold he promise that Jesus will find us at the end, and in that moment we, like the man born blind, will be able to kneel before him and say, “Lord, I believe.”