Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday word, 30 Mar 14

Sharing Jesus’ Vision
Lenten Sunday 4 A (30 Mar 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The first mechanically printed, English bible had ample notes. People used their “study bible.”1 One of its notes appeared at a verse in today’s gospel selection:
“Religion is assaulted most by the pretence of religion: but the more it is pressed down, the more it rises up.”2
Pretense. We hear it echo its cousin, pretend: to behave in ways to make something appear to be the case when it is not. We all are familiar with that. Religion and living that flows from it are vulnerable to pretense and pretenders. Jesus faced that often in his life and ministry. Today we witnessed it with Pharisees after Jesus healed a man born blind. First a word about healing, then about the Pharisees.

We all know Jesus lived before our understanding of medicine. That means we have to let go our understanding given to us by science and technology. When we do we can begin to understand what Jesus and his peers understood healing to do. Briefly, healing in the ancient Mediterranean world restored meaning to people whose lives were lacerated by a variety of conditions. For Jesus and all Jews meaning itself flowed from God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebbekah, Jacob and Rachel, Creator of all.

God created humans male and female.3 By worship humans served God recalling the words of their Scriptures and with ritual praise and sacrifice. Illness, and even some ordinary bodily functions, made people unfit to worship. To be unable to worship put people out of balance at best. At worst it emptied their lives of meaning. When he healed Jesus restored meaning to people and their lives. We can miss that when we focus on the elimination of their symptoms or conditions.

To be blind was understood not to be whole as God had created humans. The disciples’ question about sin begins to fit. More important was the lack of meaning the blind man felt not being able to worship and being able only to beg. Even his neighbors didn’t know him. When they saw him after Jesus healed him they said:“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said,“It is,“but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
How we are known shapes our meaning.

The once-blind-now-seeing man held his own with the Pharisees. The seeing man allows us to notice the Pharisees were blind to Jesus, light from light4 who is light of the human race.5

In a sense we are all blind because no one see as God sees. In another sense our triune God shares the vision of God with all who desire it. We can choose to stay in darkness; yet God created us for light and to be light. Paul’s phrase children of the light is no quaint expression. To share the vision of the Trinity, who creates and redeems us, makes us people of the light. To enjoy their light frees us to live the purposes they create for us and live them with gusto for the life of the world.6

Living our Christian vocations for the life of the world shares Jesus’ mission. We don’t pretend. When we make Jesus’ mission ours we don’t assault nor do we look inward. We look beyond ourselves; we encourage others; and by respectful, unassuming Christian outreach we allow others to discover or to reclaim meaning for their lives.

Each of us grows freer to spread the light of Jesus the more we grow to echo in our words the one with clear sight received from Jesus: One thing I do know is that I all I have is Jesus’ gift: my sight; my abilities; my talents; my possessions; my personal purpose, my vocation.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the life of our triune God.
  • Ask the man born blind to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise him for enlightening you and sharing with you his vision and attitude. Consider how you live your baptism in respectful, unassuming Christian ways. Chat with Jesus about them.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to make his mission—for the life of the world—yours lived with his church.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The more we live his words which we pray, the more we put our fingerprints on Jesus’ mission and he gives us his vision and attitude.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. It became known as the Geneva Bible.
  2. Note on John 9.16.
  3. Genesis 1.27.
  4. From the Nicene Creed.
  5. John 1.4.
  6. John 6.51.

Wiki-images of the blind man washing in Siloam pool and healed blind man telling his story PD-Art

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