Jesus Is Our Light

03-22-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that John's Gospel is all about signs? Do you also recognize that for a sign to have meaning, it must be seen, heard, or read? The Gospel of John is all about signs, and clearly his Gospel has to be read, and then ultimately thought about and understood to some degree.

Our first story this Sunday is from the Old Testament from the Book of Samuel. This story relates the journey of Samuel to Bethlehem to the house and family of Jesse. In listening we learn that God tells Samuel he should anoint the future king of Israel. Accordingly Samuel goes and meets the older, strapping, capable boys and thinks they're fine indeed, yet we learn that none of obvious candidates was the choice of God. Samuel is told again that God not only sees into our heart but also God sees differently than we do. And thus Samuel calls for the remaining son who is the youngest named David. This one, the non-obvious, is God's choice, and thereupon the Spirit rushes upon the young man.

This story and the Gospel balance each other because the story of the cure of the man born blind is also about seeing. Note how a blind beggar draws Jesus' attention. The Lord gives elaborate directions, which the blind man then follows. And as a result the blind man comes back seeing. At this point in the story, this blind man has no insight into what has happened. He simply knows that once he could not see, and now he does.

As according to the religious custom of then, his neighbors take him to the Pharisees. And at this point things go bad, very bad. The educated and religiously elitist Pharisees sharply cross-examine the bedraggled man. It is shocking that, rather than rejoicing in his newfound vision, they berate and castigate him for violating the Sabbath.

The bouncing back and forth in the storyline ultimately leaves this wretched man all by himself; he is left standing alone. Sadly, his parents are very afraid of the religious authorities and do not speak up for him. The whole social power and establishment condemn him. Finally, the man born blind is thrown out of the temple, that essential source and vital center of Jewish life.

Then Jesus comes to him and asks clear, direct questions and the man answers simply and directly. At this point in the story, faith is added to sight, as the man who was once blind sees: "I do believe, Lord."

We know that the Ephesians to whom Paul writes in our second reading never actually saw Jesus himself. Paul says he himself saw him in a flash of blinding insight. We are just like the Ephesians. We and the Ephesians are advised by Paul to remember that we all were once in spiritual blindness and now are light in the Lord. Did you know that long ago in the earlier church the newly baptized were called illuminati, the illuminated, those wholly filled with the light of Christ?

We can find light everywhere in our readings this weekend. The insight of God chooses David as the future king. The Responsorial Psalm this weekend includes words that tell us not to fear the dark valley. The blind man comes ultimately to be able to see Jesus, the Light of the world and, more importantly, professes faith in Jesus.

This Lent during these very confusing times, we are asked to see the sign that no matter what Jesus is our Light (and our Salvation).