Sunday, April 3, 2011

"But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart..."

The Truth is an eye given by God for the seeing of God. Some of these “eyes” we cannot bear to look out of; we blind them as quickly as possible.

Gospel text (Jn 9:1-41):
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar 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.”
He said, “I am.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

Today, in the Fourth Sunday of Lent —also called rose or “laetare” (rejoice) Sunday— all the liturgy invites us to experience a deep joy, a great exultation, because Easter is getting nearer.

This Sunday's gospel narrative allows us to examine closely the intense and ever increasing tension developing between the Pharisees who can see physically, but are spiritually blind, and a simple, humble man who is physically blind, but who eventually is able to see who Jesus really is.

The Pharisees deny that which is evident: Jesus healed the man born blind. They refuse to accept that which is obvious. Is not this the situation of our contemporary world?

For example, it is obvious and evident that life begins at the moment of conception, and yet in the face of scientific proof, many continue to promote abortion. If human life did not begin at the moment of conception, why would an abortion be necessary in the first place?

Furthermore, a blind humanity continues to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual marriages, euthanasia and human cloning. Many refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society. How much more destruction must take place before people begin to see the truth?

Unfortunately, our own country has become profoundly divided between two opposing forces. On the one hand, the radical "left" decries any appearance of traditional values in the name of individual rights. When Americans speak out in support of family values, they respond by questioning the substance of these values.

On the other hand, the radical "right" are just as polarizing as their counterparts on the left. They decry the immorality of our times, but they are too often void of any Christian charity.

Darkness abides in the deep recesses of opinions and ideologies not borne of - and informed by - the truth. We must move beyond the illusory images that only appear to be reality. We must have the openness to question and not accept blindly everything that is presented to us by modern culture. We must understand that relativism is bankrupt and that true freedom can only be found in objective truth.

Pope John Paul II once wrote; "It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one's whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the way, and the truth, and the life. It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived, in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters" (Veritatis Splendor, 88).

Those who think that they have all of the answers are no longer reachable. Pride is the root of spiritual blindness. The man born blind in this Sunday's gospel passage exemplifies the humility that is needed in order to see and to grasp the truth.

How can we move from erroneous opinion to the acquisition of objective truth? We need to be open. We need to ask God to show us the truth. In our quest for truth we should be on our knees and cry out to the Lord: Lord, show me the truth. Then we must read. Read objective sources. It is better not to read someone's opinion about a particular topic. Read and study the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

On the morning before the conclave began that elected Cardinal Ratzinger as our Pope, he delivered what I consider to be one of the greatest homilies that I have heard. Pope Benedict addressed the very root of the modern problem. This is what he said.

"How many winds of doctrine we have known in these last decades, how many ideological currents, how many fashions of thought? The small boat of thought of many Christians has often remained agitated by the waves, tossed from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, etc.

"Every day new sects are born and we see realized what St. Paul says on the deception of men, on the cunning that tends to lead into error (cf. Ephesians 4:14). To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of 'doctrine,' seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute, leaving its whims as the ultimate measure.

"We have another measure: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. 'Adult' is not a faith that follows the waves in fashion and the latest novelty. Adult and mature is a faith profoundly rooted in friendship with Christ. This friendship opens us to all that is good and gives us the measure to discern between what is true and what is false, between deceit and truth".

We must mature in this adult faith; we must lead the flock of Christ to this faith. And this faith, the only faith, creates unity and takes place in charity. St. Paul offers us a beautiful phrase, in opposition to the continual ups and downs of those who are like children tossed by the waves, to bring about truth in charity, as fundamental formula of Christian existence. Truth and charity coincide in Christ. In the measure that we come close to Christ, also in our life, truth and charity are fused. Charity without truth would be blind; truth without charity would be like 'a clanging cymbal' (1 Corinthians 1:13).

Because he was open and humble, the man born blind asks the most fundamental question that needs to be asked by everyone: "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" (John 9: 36). His question was answered; "You have seen him and it is he who speaks to you" (John 9: 37).

When we are humble, open and thirsty for the truth, Jesus will flood our souls with his Holy Spirit. The cobwebs of twisted thinking will vanish. Light will shine through our entire being. Our eyes will be open and we shall see.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out and having found him he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of man?' He answered, 'And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.' He said, 'Lord, I believe'; and he worshiped him" (John 9: 35-38).

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