Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent Year A
Theme: Close Your Eyes and See!
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday March 22 2020
A blind man walked into a store with his dog leading him. Once inside, he starts swinging his dog around. This greatly disturbed the other customers. The manager of the store came up to him and demanded an explanation for what he was doing. The blind man calmly replied, “Don’t be alarmed, Sir. I’m just looking around.”
This Sunday, the Gospel is about a man born blind. His fellow Jews looked upon him with contempt, believing that his blindness was God’s punishment for his sins. So, instead of compassion and care, he gets harsh words and ridicule from them. Fortunately, Jesus saw him, took pity on him and cured him. After the cure, he was subjected to a lot of pressure from the Pharisees and even from his own family. But he stood by his statement that it was Jesus who cured him. At first, he said it was the man Jesus. Later, he said Jesus was a prophet. Finally, he professed his belief in Jesus as the Son of Man and Lord.
The man was born blind, but he could see the truth that Jesus is God. On the contrary, the Jewish leaders have good eyesight, but they were not able and were unwilling to see the truth about Jesus. They were spiritually blind. Such an unfortunate situation indeed: to have eyes and not being able to see!
We are blessed to have healthy eyesight. But the Gospel this Sunday is giving us an opportunity to examine ourselves. Have we been sometimes spiritually blind like the learned religious leaders in Jesus’ time? Let me illustrate this with a few examples.
We have microscopes to see tiny objects; telescopes to see distant stars and planets, but we often fail to give attention to the persons right next to us. We can now see the inside of the human body through X-rays, MRI, endoscopy and ultrasound. But we do not see the inner goodness and beauty of every human being. We can now go to outer space and discover new planets in the universe, but we do not go deep inside ourselves and discover our inner space where God resides.
In others words, the eyes of our bodies have become ultra powerful with the use of modern science. But the eyes of our soul have remained weak and dim. This is the fruit of unbridled materialism and egoism that afflict the entire humanity. Man’s selfish obsession for material goods has resulted in the erosion of our value system and the distortion of our priorities.
These really are strange times. We wanted to do things faster to save time. So we came up with supersonic jets and bullet trains and invented all sorts of high tech appliances and gadgets. But we still rush and are always running out of time. We wanted to have better communication with people. So we came up with computers and smart phones. But we spend more time fiddling with our phones and surfing the Internet than having meaningful conversation with our family and loved ones. We know so many details and updates about Hollywood celebrities but we do not know the names of our next-door neighbors. We build bigger houses, but we want smaller families. We have more experts, but more problems. We have more food, but less nutrition. We have more medicine, but more incurable diseases. We have more leisure, but less fun. We spend more, but have less. We have more of many things, but we have less of what is truly valuable.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta said: “I think the world today is upside down. … We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
In short, we are blind to what really matters most in life. We are always running after things that are not really essential. In the process we get lost, confused and disoriented. What must we do? The answer is simple: we need to figuratively close our eyes, for many times we cannot see the forest for the trees. When our eyes are closed, we do not get distracted by trivial matters and we can focus on the things that are truly important and valuable in life.
A young and very attractive nurse consulted the doctor about a patient: “Doctor, can I give this young man a sedative? He gets excited every time he sees me and when I take his pulse it gets faster.” The doctor replied, “No. Just give him a blindfold.”
Sometimes we need to be blindfolded in order to appreciate the value of the gift of sight and the beauty of light. Sometimes we need to be blind in order to regain our spiritual eyesight. Sometimes, we need to lose the non-essentials in order to focus on the essentials.
Definitely, this is the clear message of what the whole world is experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are forced to stay at home, and spend more time with our loved ones. No more shopping and leisure outside, and begin to give attention to the well-being of the family. Since public Masses are suspended, we now focus on family prayer. As priests are obliged to celebrate private Masses, his Mass is more focused on God, not on how to please his audience. And we see and willing let go of the non-essential, and focus more on what really is essential: God and family.
The season of Lent invites us to close our eyes to the distractions of this world, and to the countless non-essentials in our life. It challenges us to look into ourselves and examine our values and direction in life. And like the man born blind, may we fix our gaze on Jesus alone, our source of true happiness and life. We will not get lost for he is the Way. We will not live in darkness for he is the Truth. We will overcome death for he is the Life who offers us the gift of everlasting life.
When times seem so uncertain, confusing and dark, let us always call to mind his words: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Amsterdam St., Capitol Park Homes
Matandang Balara, Quezon City 1119