HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A.
THEME: What the Lord wants of Us.
BY: Fr. Uchenna Onyejiuwa.
(First reading, 1 Sam 16:1,6-7,10-13; second reading, Eph 5:8-14; gospel, Jn 9:1-41).
The human mind unaided by divine illumination is often limited to a cause-and-effect approach to reality as a natural principle of life. It is the principle that guides most of man’s actions even when he is not conscious of it. This is easily seen in the way the quid pro quo type of Christianity being propagated within our locality is thriving, which has paved the way for reinforced neo-paganism to sustain the erroneous ideology. Man often sees it (cause and effect) as the basis upon which everything that happens in life must find its explanation, it is the prism through which man views reality. It also undergirds the way he relates to the world around him and to that extent informs his decisions. For example, a negative thought flows thus: if he is allowed to go to school he will become successful, to ensure he doesn’t succeed he must not be allowed to go to school. This is the very reason why people are crazy about power to ensure that every cause and effect of life is to their advantage, which is often to the detriment of others. And if you have no other way of ensuring it you remain the underdog in the entire game of life. Don’t wonder why people are always surprised to see anyone they consider a nobody or ‘unconnected’ succeed in life. However, the liturgy of today is telling us that there is more to life than cause and effect, we only need to pay close attention to our Lord Jesus Christ to see it.
In the liturgy, we see an invitation to jettison our myopic and darkened way of looking at life and embrace an open, out-of-the-box, and more spiritual way of appreciating reality by bonding closely to Christ. This will help us to always acknowledge our limitations and open our eyes to witness the working presence of the divine in our universe. The closer we are to God, in spirit and in truth, the more we are likely to overcome the limitations our corrupt human nature imposes on our thinking and vice versa. We really need to see things from God’s perspective to be able to rejoice (as today’s introit suggests) amid all the sorrows and woes we are experiencing in our country. In the first reading of today which is taken from the first book of Samuel, we see Samuel who was asked to go to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons display that very natural human deficiency in making a proper assessment, his experience in the appointment of Saul led him to make a hasty conclusion at the sight of Eliab; but God quickly corrected him: “Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him: God does not see as man sees: man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.” Without divine illumination, man is blind beyond appearances.
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In the Gospel, we have a more dramatic presentation of man’s deficient and obscure way of viewing reality. We can identify virtually all the characters in the ensuing drama: Christ is the protagonist, the Pharisees are the antagonists/foil, the disciples are the confidant, the blind man is the love interest, and the people, the neighbours and parents can be said to be the tertiary characters. His confidants, first of all, showcased their human deficiencies by linking the man’s blindness to a cause, but Christ immediately corrected them, just like in the first reading: “Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” So suffering is not always the result of guilt as life is not all about cause and effect, many things happen the way they do so that we can feel the presence of the divine in our midst. The point is, God is not far away from us. It is a revelation of the identity of Jesus. And as Christ-bearers, we should always be preoccupied with how to lessen the pain of the suffering and not focus on what he did or did not do that brought him the suffering. This, I suppose, is what Christ wants of us.
The Pharisees who are the antagonists, seeing the miraculous sign Christ performed began to find fault because it didn’t follow their mechanically established standard, yet the weight or magnitude of the miracle bespoke godliness. It scattered their brain because not even their understanding of cause and effect could explain what happened, which is the reason for their disagreement and why they had to invite the man to retell the story again. Beloved this is how God scatters the brain of evil men when he rescues his own from their clutches and he will also rescue you from whatever man-made challenges you are facing today to the chagrin of your enemies. All that he requires of us is for us to allow Him to heal us of our blindness so that we can see as He sees. We must also imitate the faith and courage of the blind man who is the love interest of this drama. He says to the Pharisees: ” Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes, and you don’t know where he comes from! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but God does listen to men who are devout and do his will. Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of a man who was born blind; if this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing.” Let us never be swayed by intimidation to utter falsehood when the truth is all there is to say.
We have all been brought into the light of Christ by our baptism and our lenten observances, we must, therefore, refrain from the deeds of darkness as St. Paul admonished us in the second reading. On the contrary, let the light of Christ shining through us illuminate wherever we are planted to expose every deed of darkness so that darkness will no longer have any place in our world and hearts. Peace be with you.
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