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Saturday, 18 March 2023 11:30

Fourth Sunday of Lent - Laetare Sunday - 2023

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 9:1-41

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestKarma is something that a lot of people are asking me about, as to whether it is a Christian belief or not. Well, I would politely say that it is not. For us Christians, we believe that retribution or judgment will be happening not in this life but in the next.

The gospel for today presents a very intriguing question that haunted the Jews for many centuries. They believed that illness was a product of sin and they thought that sins of the parents could be passed on to their children through sickness. That’s why the gospel for today opens with the question about whether the man was born blind because of the sins of his parents. And Jesus performed a miracle not only to disprove this old thinking but also to let people see God’s glory as the Light of the World through Jesus himself.

I was blind but now I see Jn 9 25 TwitterFor the gospel for this week, let me discuss the matter in three points.

First, the belief of the man born blind. Like the gospel last week about the Samaritan woman, it is Jesus again who made the first move to reach out. He saw this man born and Jesus spat on the ground and made some paste from his saliva and dirt and put it on the eyes of the blind man and asked him to wash his eyes at the pool of Siloam. Siloam means sent because that pool is a conduit of water that is dispersed throughout the city. Then after his healing, he became a witness to Christ. Several times throughout the gospel reading, there are people who have doubted whether he is the man born blind and for every question, he narrates how he was healed. And like the Samaritan woman in last week’s gospel, his knowledge of Jesus was also gradual until his confession of Jesus as Lord. When he was asked about his healing, he professed that Jesus was a prophet. Then when he finally meets Jesus he confesses that Jesus is Lord and worships him.

Second, the stubbornness of the Pharisees and their followers. The Jews always had an explanation to doubt the healing of the man born blind. First, many doubted that he was the man born blind. After his healing, many thought the healed person was somebody else and he only looked like the blind beggar on the side of the road. Then when he said that he was the man, they questioned his parents. And after that they even doubted Jesus, whom they believe is a sinner because he has violated the Sabbath law by making a paste made of saliva and dirt and smearing it over the eyes of the blind man. And yet, the healed man was steadfast of his belief that the fact remained that he was healed by the man named Jesus.

Third, the reality of persecution for testifying for Jesus. For some unfortunate reason, the Pharisees and their followers insisted on being spiritually blind and because of this they persecuted people who believed in Jesus. First, they asked the parents of the healed man whether the man was their son and how he was healed. At first, they admitted that the healed man was their son and was indeed born blind, however when asked how he was healed, they dodged the question saying that “he is old enough” to answer the question himself, out of fear of being expelled from the synagogue. And when the healed man testified about his healing to the Jews, he himself got expelled from the synagogue. During the time of Christ, the worst punishment that anybody could get was to be expelled from the synagogue. It meant that he couldn’t enter the synagogue and would be separated from the community.

I’ve seen a bumper sticker on a car while I was driving in the streets of Wellington, that says, “If you get arrested for being a Christian, would you have enough evidence to be convicted?” The gospel for today is one of the seven miracles or what the evangelist John would call it “signs”. Like all the seven miracles that are written in the gospel according to John, it is characterised with intense drama and detail. The gospel for today, challenges us about how much are we willing to be a witness to Christ. The healed man was so convinced that Jesus is Lord that he was willing to be persecuted and penalised because he said the truth about Jesus. When Jesus has touched our lives, are we willing to be witnesses to his word too, even to the point of being persecuted by those who don’t believe in Christ?

As we celebrate Laetare Sunday, let our witnessing be a witnessing of rejoicing, not only because we are healed like the man born blind but also because we are assured of the kingdom of God through our faithful and joyful witnessing to the Gospel of Christ.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

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