YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: OVERCOMING OUR HANDICAPS
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
HOMILY: 1st: 1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a
2nd: Ephesians 5:8-14
3rd: John 9:1-41
Last Sunday we discussed Jesus as the living water that quenches the thirst of those who come to him. This Sunday we shall look into those natural inclinations and dispositions that block us from seeing the living water and deter us from drinking from it. We are presented with sufficient opportunity to reflect on those challenges (spiritual and physical) that stunt our spiritual growth especially in this Lenten season. Every one of the three readings of today offers encouragement to those who swim against the current and struggle to overcome their handicaps to holiness and self realization.
The bible is full of people with disabilities. Moses was not eloquent but he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Isaiah confessed his unworthiness and sinfulness but he became God’s mouth piece and powerful prophet of God. The history of the world too is full of tales of people who were physically found wanting. Homer the great poet was blind. Beethoven the great composer was deaf. The message of today is that no challenge, physical or spiritual is insurmountable; no mountain is too high to reach, and no ocean is too deep when the grace of God is at work in us and we too are disposed to cooperate with this grace.
In the first reading of today we hear the story of a man who was naturally and physically disqualified for the throne of Israel for the reason of age and ability. God asks Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint the king of Israel. God rejected all the sons of Jesse presented in spite of their age, stature and strength. David was the youngest and doesn’t look royal in the eyes of men. But God does not see the way men see. Men see outwardly but God sees inwardly. Eventually David was anointed the king of Israel. The anointing of David washed away his natural deficiency. It also prefigures the anointing of the messiah that will spring from the Davidic dynasty.
Today’s gospel is the fulfillment of one of the prophetic manifestos of the Messiah; a prophetic agenda that promises sight to the blind (See Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1). This was prophesied by Isaiah and proclaimed by Jesus in the temple and also fulfilled in today’s gospel. There are three things Jesus achieved by the healing of the blind man. 1) He proved that no obstacle to our holiness and self realization is insurmountable. 2) Jesus demonstrates that our challenges and weaknesses can be opportunities for the manifestation of God’s glory. 3) Jesus did not only open the physical eyes of the blind man, he also opened his spiritual eyes to recognize God’s saving power. The healing of the man born blind offers us ample time to look into the spiritual connection between sight and light. The healing confirms Jesus’ saying: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). By this Jesus challenges those in darkness to open the eyes of their faith that the light of his salvation may enter their soul. St. Paul in the second reading calls on all who are born in Christ to live like children of light.
What are the challenges that have become your spiritual handicaps? One of the major challenges we encounter is sinful inclinations. Over the years the church has emphasized the seven deadly sins which are lust, anger, gluttony, pride, avarice, envy, sloth or laziness. They are the major obstacle spiritual growth and self realization. With their smoldering effect they eat up the soul. They blind the eyes of the heart and shroud the soul in the darkness of evil. Other challenges come from people around. The Pharisees were obstacles to the healing of the physical sight of the blind man and also obstacle to the opening of the spiritual eyes of the man after he was healed. They questioned and argued everything: the cause of the blindness, the identity of the healer and the healing on the Sabbath day. The cowardice of the parents of the man who was healed is also disturbing. Their attitude reflects the attitude of some around you who stunt our spiritual growth by their actions or inactions; by their words or their silence.
We should not be afraid of these challenges. Through our baptism we are anointed and washed by water as empowerment to overcome these challenges just as the anointing of David empowered him to overcome his natural obstacles to ascendancy to the throne; and as the washing at Siloah made the blind see again. During this Lenten period, God is ready to renew his grace in us again. As we encounter Jesus in the word and in the sacrament, may he continue to open our inner eyes to see his work in us to enable us to proclaim our belief in him without fear. HAPPY SUNDAY.