Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Readings of the Day 

Do you like how things are looking? Satisfied with things as they are? Then take the blue pill. Life will go on and you won’t see anything that will bother you. Take the red pill? Then everything changes. What you see may not be very pretty, you can see might bother you, but you can see what everyone else isn’t seeing. You can see things as they really are. More than that, you can do something that matters, change things for the better.

The gospel story today begins with a typical question: who’s to blame? A man is born blind, and the disciples want to know why. The answer isn’t about who’s to blame, but what they will see. The disciples see people trying to explain something that doesn’t make sense. The Jews had a long tradition saying that God respected the Sabbath so much He would refuse to act on that day. However, a miracle happens that only can come from God, and the wise can’t accept it. The blind man understands who Jesus is because he stays with the question, he learns more and more as he’s questioned, forced to examine what happened to him, he realized who healed him. That truth cost him in one sense, acceptance by the Jewish leadership, but it delivered more than he could have hoped for: he found Christ.

The problem is willful blindness. The scribes and pharisees refuse to see, let themselves be blinded by their logic. They try everything they know to work things out, even intimidate the parents of the poor man, but it doesn’t fit. They claim to see, but can’t, won’t. Jesus condemns them because of the nature of their blindness: being born blind isn’t evil, refusing to see is.

Matthew 25 calls us to respond to those in need as we’d respond to Jesus. The challenge is to see this deeper reality. It’s easy to believe poverty is a moral failure, a condemnation of people who aren’t willing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. This view blinds us. It doesn’t let us see how people are forced into poverty, how realities are rigged against the poor and conspire to keep them poor. Being born poor today is like being born blind in Jesus day. It’s tempting to ask who’s to blame. Jesus doesn’t answer that question, but invites us to see where God is at work and be part of that work ourselves.

Christ comes to us in the Eucharist to open our eyes. Christ comes to us in the Eucharist to empower us, to help us realize we can affect reality to help someone when the cause seems lost. Christ comes to us in the Eucharist to challenge our logic, to challenge how we think and what we believe about life. Christ comes to us to help us see the real world in need around us, and to call us to do something about it. Christ comes to us to keep us from accepting the blindness we inflict on ourselves.

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