Are we blind? For the blind man, the entire episode was simple: Jesus put mud on the blind man’s eyes, then told the blind man to go wash the mud off; the blind man now sees. Those around the blind man could not believe this simplicity. There must have been more to it than that. Perhaps he never really was blind and the parents were fooling everyone all along. Perhaps the “healer” was really a sinner. Perhaps the blind man was ridiculing the Pharisees. Or worse, perhaps the blind man deigned to teach the Pharisees. I hope you “see” that often our faith is simply there in front of us—just have faith, just see. In our lives, what (and who) are the Pharisees who put barriers in our way to see what is before us? During our coronavirus “social distancing”, why not reflect on what becomes clearer to us? Can you see? “Our choice, then, as individuals and as Church, is whether we will allow God’s light to change how we see, or whether we will go through the motions and continue to see as the rest of society does, while claiming falsely that we see as God does (John van de Laar)”
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As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. . . . I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” . . .. Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “. . . how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, . . . Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. . . . Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “. . . He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” . . . And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
sermons4kids: “One day Jesus was walking with his disciples when they passed by a blind man. When they saw him, the disciples asked Jesus who was to blame for the man’s blindness. Was it because of his sin or was it because of his parent’s sins? Jesus answered them and told them that no one was to blame, he was blind so that God’s works could be shown in him. ”
Collect: Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: This reflection looks at this week’s lesson from Samuel. Samuel is told that God does not look upon outward appearances, but looks upon the heart. Then God chooses David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be Israel’s next king. We know that as he grew and as life became very challenging, King David’s heart was not pure. He was a mixture of great courage and faithfulness—and great sin and failure. What do you suppose God saw and loved in David’s heart? What do you think God loves when God looks upon your own heart?
Saint Focus: For this week, take a look at Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, “Workers of Charity”. The former was ordained and took his message of confession, repentance, and forgiveness to the common people as well as the wealthy. And he was popular. He used the popularity to get cooperation from other priests and established a community to serve the community. From this effort and with Louise de Marillac, the Sisters of Charity were established. Sr Louise had been married when she had a vision of a man, who turned out to be Fr. Vincent. Upon her husband’s death, de Paul invited her to join him. Together their work grew in size and value. Be sure to follow the link below for a greater description. [from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 20; Cuthbert, Bishop, 687
- 21; Thomas Ken, Bishop, 1711; Benedict of Nursia, Abbot, 547 (alt. date)
- 22; James De Koven, Priest, 1879
- 23; Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop and Missionary of Armenia, c. 332
- 24; Oscar Romero, Archbishop & Martyr, 1980, and the Martyrs of El Salvador
- 25; The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary
- 26; [Harriet Monsell], Monastic, 1883; Richard Allen, Bishop, 1831
Movies/Videos: A list of movies about blindness, some hard to take.
image “Lord, that I might see!”, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54181 [retrieved March 7, 2020]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenr/2296612588/. Sculpture from Budapest album.
Preparing for Lent: How many items have you collected: Get a bag to hold your “things”. Each day of Lent, find something that you no longer use and put it in the bag. Then during Holy week, give your bag of things to a local charity. And for the 2nd activity, participate in Lent Madness (Facebook page) or website. Lent Madness is a fun way to learn about the saints of our church. Each day you select one of two saints who you believe is more “worthy” to be a saint. Near Palm Sunday, one of the selected saints will earn the “golden halo”. And “you helped”!
The lectionary for Sunday provides a couple of good examples of how one should/could choose a leader and even how one could be chosen to be a leader. In the old testament, we are reminded that God does not choose the most popular or the biggest or the best but the one with the “good heart”. And in the gospel, the blind man is chosen to tell (and re-tell and re-tell) the story of how Jesus healed him, thus witnessing about Jesus. Think about your life. Are you in a position to witness? The answer is yes. In some instances, it may be uncomfortable for you to witness but the opportunity is there.
Excerpted from So It Is website.
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The gospel reading has been used since early days of the church to help those preparing for baptism understand the process of enlightenment they are going through. In this story, the blind man progresses from the restoration of his physical sight to a deeper enlightenment about God until he is able to recognize Jesus as his Redeemer.
The first reading takes us to the point in the history of salvation when David is chosen by God as king. As is so often the case with the outstanding heroes of the faith, God’s choice is not apparent to those who evaluate by human standards. David’s anointing is an image of our own baptism in which God chose us and set us apart not for our own merits but because God loves us.
The second reading describes how those who have been baptized and now live in the light will carry on their lives. The final verse may be an ancient Christian baptismal hymn.
We, like the man born blind, are now awake and filled with the Light from Light through our baptism. As we continue in our Lenten pilgrimage toward Easter, enlightened by God’s Word and nourished by the sacraments, we find ourselves in the company of a great family of believers. Let us continue to pray for those preparing to be enlightened and anointed in baptism by the Holy Spirit at Easter.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.