Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13
The wisdom in the saying about not judging by appearances is lived out in a radical way in the readings for today. The episode of the man born blind does more than relate the story of how a man was healed. Disciples of every age are challenged to ponder the connection between suffering and sin. Jesus makes it clear that suffering is not necessarily a sign of a person having sinned at all. In this instance, the suffering of the blind man becomes a catalyst for change and growth: an invitation to look deeper and see God at work.
The man himself does not ask to be healed, but he is sent to Siloam and on his return, he is questioned repeatedly. At first, he simply relates his story, but in the face of an ongoing increasingly hostile interrogation, he grows in confidence and starts to challenge those who question him. Not only does he challenge them, but his insight into who Jesus is grows—first by declaring him to be a prophet, then engaging in debate about whether Jesus is a sinner and could possibly be doing the works of God. His argument is clear: no one who is a sinner could possibly do what Jesus has done, and he wonders why his questioners refuse to see that God is at work in him.
Having been driven out by his questioners, he is found by Jesus and his journey of faith is now completed as he now proclaims his belief in Jesus as the light. It is a journey from blindness to sight and, on a deeper level, a journey into insight and faith. By the conclusion of the scene, he has grown, but others have not been open to who Jesus is, and the life that he is offering.
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.