This Sunday’s readings have the theme of sight, blindness, light and darkness. All of us in some ways can be blinded by selfishness and self-interest. The Pharisees in their treatment of the man born blind seemed more concerned with keeping the status quo, namely their power, than allowing someone who had been cured from blindness to start life afresh unhindered. The apostles themselves, it would seem, found it difficult to fully comprehend Jesus’ message that he would be a suffering Messiah because they were blinded by self-interest which made a suffering Messiah a reality they did not want to see, but to be fair, all of them except one accepted the call to follow a crucified Christ. Peter repented and saw clearly; Judas did not repent and look outward, and he despaired.
Pride is the queen and mother of all the vices. Pride caused Lucifer to believe he could overthrow God and it may be that pride caused Judas to think he could force Our Lord to take a different path. Pride made it very hard for the Pharisees to accept Jesus and, like Lucifer who tried to destroy God, they tried to destroy Jesus. The antidote to pride is humility. Our Lord spoke about the necessity to be childlike. In the first reading, we can learn the lessons of trust and humility. The prophet Samuel had his own firm ideas about who should be king, but he was faithful to the Lord’s inspiration. Samuel’s faith and humility told him to ignore his judgment, his view about who would make a great king and trust God’s judgment because only God sees the whole picture clearly. We need to admit to the possibility that what we want is not always what God wants, and that we do not know everything.
Pope Francis has brought a breath of fresh air to the Church because, like Our Lord, he has challenged people to go out of their comfort zones and see the poor and consider their suffering. It is easy for us to become comfortable in our lives and not want to see those in need or accept the invitation to become more Christ-like, so much so that, like the Pharisees, some people would prefer to see a man blind on the street, than see him cured, if it meant they had to go outside of their comfort zone. If we are guided by the light of faith as Jesus explained in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, we will see him in all those who are in need.
St. Paul in the letter to the Ephesians says we are blinded and dead and must begin to see and live in the light. The only way to live in the light is to live according to Christ’s teachings. The more faithful we are to God and to his will in our lives, the more clearly we shall see and understand all that takes place around us in the light of Faith. Pope Francis in his document on Faith, Lumen Fidei, writes: ‘The word spoken to Abraham contains both a call and a promise. First, it is a call to leave his own land, a summons to a new life, the beginning of an exodus which points him towards an unforeseen future. The sight which faith would give to Abraham would always be linked to the need to take this step forward: faith "sees" to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter into the horizons opened up by God’s word.’
In the gospel, we heard that the Pharisees attributed physical sickness as a punishment for sin - something God corrected in the Book of Job. Was this an excuse for not seeing the plight of those in need? The Pharisees could, or did not, want to see that keeping the Sabbath holy did not exclude going out of their way to help others in need.
Our Lord was able to cure the man of his physical blindness and, more importantly, he can cure people of the spiritual blindness in their lives. When people pray, fast, and give alms it helps them to turn to the love of God and neighbour and to their life from God’s perspective. That is the whole reason for Lent: to help prepare us for the coming of the light of Christ, Christ who is the light of the world, at Easter.