Saturday, March 25, 2017

Homily Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
·         1 Sam 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a;
·         Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-6;
·          Eph 5:8-14
·         John 9:1-41

Christ Looks Deeply Into Our Hearts
 Today we celebrates  our trust in God’s healing light, and hope in his boundless love for us not measured by appearances! God in today's readings gives us the vision of light, cures our blindness (which could come in different forms) and looks into the hearts of each and every one of us. He is the ideal shepherd (Ps23, Jer 23, and Ezekiel 34 and John 10). He loves us where ever we are. He cares for us and does not judge us from appearances. He shines his light and scrutinizes from within! Today’s scriptures substantiate this divine attitude toward us, especially the catechumens who are to be admitted to the Sacrament of Christian Initiation, and those that the society considers weak or the improbable, but fortunately and consistently uplifted by the ministry and preaching of Pope Francis.

 In today’s first reading God chooses shepherd David, the youngest son of Jesse to replace Saul as the new King of Israel (1 Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a) to the amazement of everyone. He does this irrespective of other seven sons of Jesse, presented to Samuel for anointing.  This story illustrates God’s choice of improbable savior. It shows that God can write on a crooked line. The same young David would defeat the gigantic Goliath in a battle (1 Sam17). This is how God works. In many other places in the bible we have seen God chose Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Rehab the prostitute, Israel’s Judges, the prophets, prophetess and priests, our Mother Mary, and of course David, irrespective of their human weaknesses or lowliness to work his marvelous. Some of them like Isaiah would argue, “O God I am a man of unclean lips” or like Jeremiah, “I am too young.” Or like Mary, “how can this be since I am a virgin.” It goes back to the reading of today. God does not see as human being sees. Human being sees the appearance, but God looks and shines his light of love and forgiveness into the heart of each and every one of us. Even though David on the long run would have his own trials, but God would insist and establish for him an everlasting dynasty-- in Christ! Are we convinced that God sees through our hearts and choses us in spite of who were are?
Similarly, in the Gospel reading of today, Christ’s healing of the blind beggar (John 9:1-41) receives mixed reactions as David’s choice was. It is viewed differently and humanly by everyone, the passers-by, including the Pharisees who so much depended on external appearances and judgments.  For them Christ was not from God, because it was an abomination to heal and to perform charitable works on the Sabbath. There were also those who disbelieve that the man was born blind, in the first place (v.18). Christ must have been “faking the miracle.”

They did not believe in Christ. Disbelieve itself is a form of spiritual blindness. The more reason they went to confront the parents of the healed man in order confirm how their son’s healing came about. Out of fear they couldn’t testify much to the healing mercy of Christ. They simply said to the Pharisees “my son is of age ask him, how he got his sight.” Apart from disbelieve, sometimes fear and lack of spiritual courage can also blind us or deny us of an opportunity to speak or witness the truth. Each of us are called to go out to the whole world and witness the Gospel!
 Beside the image of David, we are invited to turn to the blind man as our model of faith. Or relate to his experience of encounter with the Lord, the Light of the world. We have to do this recognizing that we  do have our own blindness and weaknesses (which could be indifference to the plights of our neighbors, irresponsibility to our duties, arrogance, laziness, selfishness, tribalism, parochialism, lack of creativity, racism and jealousy...).

 In the case of the healed beggar, even though he is thrown out of the synagogue, persecuted, denied and rejected by family members and close neighbors (vv. 8-34), the cured man once again was found by Jesus, the Son of Man, whom he completely trusts and believes in (vv.35-36).  He worships Christ, who reassures him that, he” came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see and those who see might become blind” (v. 39).
 With this Christ like God his father who appointed David king of Israel, is drawing a contrast between human sight and God sights. He is drawing contrast between the blind man who responded in faith to the light of vision brought him by Christ, and the Pharisees who claim to see, but disbelieve in the works of Christ. Human fear and faithlessness displayed by the parents of the blind and the Pharisees, can blind us from the light of Christ.  They are “fruitless works of darkness,” according to Saint Paul (Eph 5:8-14).

The light of Christ penetrates the hearts of each of us, in every land, culture and nation. It goes deeper than appearances. It knocks off the barriers of division, jealousy, racism and blindness of injustices in our broken world. It shepherds us (Ps 23) and brings us hope.  As we make progress in our Lenten discipline may we continue to trust in God’s healing light, and hope in his boundless love for us, that surpasses mere appearances!
Reflection Questions:

1.    Are you convinced that God’s love for us is not limited to our appearances; but shines through the darkness of our hearts?

2.    How can you relate to the story of the election of David, king of Israel, as against his other handsome brothers? And to what extent do you  share this story with members of your faith community with different social/political ideologies and agenda?

3.    In the light of the story of the healing of the blind man in John 9 what would you identify as your personal, or community’s blindness? Do you trust in God’s healing light and encourage others in your families, places of work and communities to do so?