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Sunday Readings for Apr. 3, 2011 (4LentA)
By Fr. James Gilhooley
Oil was delivered to a home one winter day. The father, surrounded by his kids, protested he did not order it. The driver asked, "Do you have oil?" The father said no. "Well," the driver said, "you're in luck. Even better, this oil is paid for." The driver handed over the gift card. It read, "Sent to you by a Christian." His benefactor was anonymous but well known to Jesus.
The most famous blind man in history is featured in today's Gospel. It is a play in three acts. (William Barclay) The drama opens with wonder and ends in faith.
The man formerly blind had no idea his ophthamologist was the Messiah. In the first act, he is summoned by the Grand Inquisitors. In answer to their third degree, he says in verse 11 "the man called Jesus" gave me sight. He considered the Teacher extraordinary but nothing more. He might well have applied Shakespeare's words to Jesus, "His life was gentle and the elements were so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, This was a man." Many atheists are lifelong fans of Jesus. His is the greatest story ever told and with each telling it gets better and better (Unknown). His life is one in an infinite trillion. But a singular man is not thereby divine.
In the second act and verse 17, the cured man takes a major step forward. He calls his benefactor a prophet. Such a person is a VIP with God. He knows what's going down and what's going on. But he's not divine.
The curtain goes up on the final act. The once blind man is about to take Kierkegaard's gigantic leap of faith. John's miracle play is to conclude with all guns booming. The cured man has been rudely expelled from the presence of his inquisitors. They wanted to lynch him. They snorted indignantly, "Are you trying to teach us?" He was to them trash.
But the Lord of the Temple is waiting for him. He knew well that he would be kicked out of His Temple. He starts the dialogue with the question, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He responds, "Sir, tell me who He is so that I may believe." Christ's response comes as no surprise to the man. "I am He." The man declares, "Lord, I believe." Notice he does not call Him "Jesus" now nor "sir" but "Lord." Then he fell on his knees and worshipped Him. The curtain drops to this centuries old play.
The man placed his belief in the Galilean because he felt compelled to do so. His new eyes told him of His divinity. Though he had been blind, we are nowhere told that he was stupid.
The more one studies Jesus, the greater He becomes. This is not true of us. We quickly reveal our faults. Eg, we are all grossly disappointed by pedophile priests, but none of that disappointment washes over onto Christ. If it did, you would not be reading these lines nor I writing them.
This miracle tells us much about the Lord. The blind man had not asked for a cure. It was the Christ who gave it freely. He was touched by the man's condition. It did not concern the Saviour that the man did not know Him from a hole in the wall. He was repelled by the condition of the man's eyes. His blindness offended Him. He wanted him to enjoy rainbows, purple and orange sunsets, and wild flowers. If Christ had a calling card, it would read, "If in trouble, call me at 1 800 JESUS." Christ is one who keeps His heart softer than His head. (Unknown)
And, as Jesus is on call 24/7, so does He wish us to be. He would be delighted if we followed the example of the anonymous donor who opened the homily. The benefactor has oil delivered in winter time. A Christian impulse has changed the family's life. War had been declared on poverty and this time poverty lost. What had begun as a cold winter developed into a warm one because of a Christian.
Lent is moving along. Into our ears, the Messiah whispers, "Do amaze me in the three weeks left in this Lent with your generosity to my poor. Do it without calling attention to yourself." The poor are not hard to find. The New York Times reports 20% of US children live in poverty and 47 million US workers lack a living wage.
You may say, "I give away so much already. When do I stop?" The answer is when Jesus stops giving to you. Remember poverty never takes a holiday. (Unknown)