Year A: 4th Sunday of Lent

The divine encounter always starts with individuals, but moves into the community to affirm, enlighten and heal our shared humanity.

1 Samuel 16:1.6-7.10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

The divine encounter is always conducted initially by way of individuals but always then to individuals in relationships – to the community in ways which affirm, enhance, enlighten, celebrate and heal our shared humanity. Very often, the encounter comes to individuals whose brokenness is the very reason they are chosen. It carries but cannot confine God’s desire to involve the whole of humanity in that “conversation”. The dialogue ‘speaks to hearts rather than heads. We have ears for the conversation with God insofar as we first are rendered deaf to our own strident ego-driven voices.

So, the Lord speaks to Samuel, and he learns that the ways of God are not easily found, least of all through appearances.  Samuel anoints David, chosen over his more qualified brothers and ‘the spirit of the Lord seized David and stayed with him from that day on.’  David later, through the fragility of sin – murder, adultery, deception and repentance becomes the symbol of the just King, whose ‘Son’, long after, can usher in the true and final Kingdom of God. 

Paul compares the impact of the great conversation with the impact of light blinding someone living in darkness. Exposure to this light brings ‘complete goodness and right living and truth.’   A person ‘discovers’ what the Lord wants, has nothing to do with the ‘world of darkness’, being illuminated and turning into light, awakening from sleep, rising from the dead, having Christ ‘shining’ on you!  He struggles to find the metaphorical words – but the words he did find have reverberated down the intervening 2000 years.  

In John’s multi-layered story of Jesus healing the blind man, it is all made blindingly clear! We, at least the pharisaic side of us, do not want to recognise the truth – for all and every respectable human and religious reasons. We remain as blind as the blind man until he is illuminated by the light to say: ‘Lord, I believe.’  Our freedom demands that we can resist the truth and remain ‘blind’.  A God who would force reception of the truth, would not be the God of the dialogue, since authentic dialogue demands a respect for human freedom to be able to accept or reject the message it contains.  Partnering in the dialogue demands trust and faith, which can only be delivered though participation in the dialogue. It is a Catch-22 situation.  The Blind man has only one gift to offer which will untie the knot: to have the ‘in-sight’, to recognise the need to be cured of his blindness. ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.’ He un-questioningly goes and washes his eyes covered in spittle. He has ears to hear, like Samuel, like Jesse, like David and like Paul.  That is all the dialogue needs to start to cure our blindness.