Today is Laetare Sunday or Joyful Sunday. It is called that because we are more than half-way through Lent and the joy of Easter is approaching. As we look around our world today it might be hard to see the joy.
The news is pretty grim right now and the very fact that you have to join Mass this morning through Facebook is one sign of that. As Christians however, we are called to see in a different way and to be able to find the hand of God even in the darkest time and our Gospel reading today helps us to reflect on that.
When Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man we first assume that this man’s biggest obstacle is his blindness, the fact that he can’t see. But this man has been blind from birth, he has never known anything else, for him the darkness around him is as natural as for us being able to see. But that is not to say that he is life is without complications.
Take the first reaction of the disciples. They immediately consider the man a sinner, wanting to know from Jesus what the man or his parents could have possibly done to for him to deserve such a fate. We find out then that the man was a beggar, meaning that there were no opportunities in his community for someone with his dis-ability to make a living or to be productive in a meaningful way.
Once the man regained his sight the people questioned whether this was really the same guy at all, meaning that they had not really looked at him for years, they couldn’t recognize him because they had just walked past him for years as if he was a fixture and not really a human being, a member of their own community.
Once the man regained his sight, we find that he was not really the one who was blind to begin with. The miracle Jesus performs sheds light on the blindness of all those around him. The Pharisees were blinded by their righteousness, focusing not on the miracle that has taken place but only on Jesus and what they perceive as his blasphemous actions. The man’s neighbors were blinded by apathy and the self-centered routine of their daily lives that allowed them to overlook their brother in his need, even the disciples were blinded by a pre-conception and judgment about who this man was and what his life was really like.
This is truly one of the saddest miracles in the bible because nothing really changes except that the man has now lost his source of income and the people, in their anger drive him away. But then we have the second encounter between him and Jesus. Where Jesus reveals his own identity, calling himself the Son of Man and the man believes and expresses his faith and we know that his life has been changed that he has received true vision.
In the letter to the Ephesians we read,
“anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light.”
We are children of the light and we know the Son of Man, we know Christ who is our brother and our Redeemer. Because of this we are called to see beyond the darkness that surrounds us and to know the hope that comes from God and brings light into the world.
During these difficult days let this hope dispel your worry. Let the light that comes from God shine through you so that you can be a sign for others. Reach out to your neighbor, from a safe distance and let them know that they are not alone and trust that all will be well. With faith in God, all will be well.