Lenten Sunday4 A (03 Apr 2011)
1Sm 16. 1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ps 23; Eph 5. 8-14; Jn 9. 1-41
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Among dangers, either/or is perhaps the worst. Its shortcomings and challenges receive expression in the retort, It’s either my way or the highway! At times we act as if that’s the only way although compromise is another way. Truth, after all, lay in and all ’round any side. Either/or is dangerous because it limits. None of us is a flat presence. We are all fusions of feelings, experiences, failures, successes and longings. We may like to see people and reality in only one dimension, but we who seek God just heard that God sees differently—more broadly and deeply—than we tend to see. We like to say we are open minded; but either/or closes minds, yet another danger in trying to live well.
Sitting in high-school physics and learning about light alerted me to broaden my vision. Chapter Six, I think it was, described early exploration of light and its suggestions that light was “discrete particles.” Later and more refined exploration proved light was made of particles. We studied hard that theory, and we did experiments that helped us see it.
Next chapter we met more modern scientists also exploring light. Sister Laetitia had us do an experiment. We made a grid, put a clear plastic frame around it like a shallow baking dish, added water and set a light beneath. We gently raised the frame and lowered it enough to move the water back and forth, back and forth. We turned on the light, and the shadow of the moving water appeared and disappeared with the water’s motion. Light behaved like waves! “What do you see?” smiled Sr. Laetitia, and we slid from doubting into arguing about light behaving as a wave instead of as a stream of particles!
Something wasn’t right; particle or wave, light had to be either/or; it couldn’t be both. Yet light behaves both ways. That most disconcerting new learning of my life was also liberating.
So do we behave multiple ways. God creates us to glorify God before others. No matter if we are blind or seeing, strong or weak, brave or timid, new or veteran. Every one is much more than a label or one’s dominant features. St. Paul told the Ephesians, who were newly friends of the risen Lord, once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Not in darkness but darkness; not in light but light in the Lord. We remind our soon-to-be-initiated Catholics they are about to become light in the Lord. Reminding them helps us recall that is our vocation, too.
We are not ordinary light. Lord Jesus graces us to shine on the world a sharply discerning light, like lasers, to distinguish sinner from sin; prudent restraint from excessive caution; opportunity from disaster. Nor are we colorless light. As a prism splits a beam of light into its variety of colors, Christians, putting their vocations at the service of others, color the world and human hearts with many hues: comfort; reconciliation; support; confidence; encouragement; joy; patient endurance; active faith; to name a few.
Lent absorbs our darkness and replaces it with the Lord’s light for us to shine in varied ways. Lent opens our eyes to see hints of glory now and hints of glory to come. No danger there!
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in the light of the Trinity. Ask the man born blind to present you to Jesus. Praise Jesus for dying and rising to enlighten you. Ask Jesus for the grace to pour your heart before him with honesty. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus called on his Father in all times, especially when what was before him frustrated him or pained him. Jesus gave us his prayer to strengthen us in our darkness and to see what is important.
Wiki-image of Jesus healing the man born blind is in the public domain.