Chapter Talk – Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 19, 2023, cycle-A
That we may see…That we may see as God’s sees…Do we ever pray for this? In personal situations, in situations of community life and beyond into the larger Church and world, do we pray with the whole of our heart to see as God sees? This is precisely where the rule of the ego, its domination needs to be toppled. In a striking story of today’s gospel of the man born blind (Jn 9:1-41), we see the Jewish religious leaders claiming at all costs that they see, that they know. Their supposed seeing falls flat before Jesus’ healing of the man’s sight. The ego stance that says we know, we have studied the law, we practice it, is a very limited horizon. With God in Jesus the horizon of Divine Life is infinite. Because of the incarnation we are given the grace for this seeing. ‘Seeing’ relates to faith…Help my little faith we pray…help me to see with the eyes of faith…
The man born blind suddenly sees and his faith grows. With his newly found faith, with the opening of his eyes to see, he stands his ground before the educated upholders of the law. His encounter with Jesus has changed his horizon, it enlarged the eye of his heart, it graced him with a living faith that begins to scale the heights and depths of God’s love and compassion. Pope Francis, in these pithy words, strikes the core meaning of this gospel: “The wonders that Jesus performs are not spectacular gestures, but have the purpose of leading to faith through a journey of inner transformation” (Angelus, March 22, 2020). Each transformation increases our seeing, our faith deepens, it becomes the anchor to help us see in our daily lives
“Behold now is the day of salvation…” We have been singing this antiphon during Lent. In its literal translation from the Greek (eido), the word ‘behold’ means “be sure to see”. It is used over 1,200 times in the Bible!! The gospel way is stamped with opposites. Here we are given one: the journey from blindness to light or falling into deeper blindness. We hold in faith as we lean one way or the other, praying increase my little seeing.
Where is faith born in the man born blind? It happens in his encounter with Jesus. If we want to truly ‘know’ God, who God is, we go to Jesus. In the encounter with Christ, we enter his heart and mind. These encounters, these experiences are where faith grows, where our seeing changes. We come to know in our experience who God is…in this knowing of God we come to know ourselves as well. The ‘faith’ expressed in this story of the man born blind is not per se about faith in a doctrine. It begins with faith in a person: Christ. This encounter opens the blind man to see who God is. Jesus did not come to change his religion. He came relating his experience of God, of his utter faith in God’s unconditional love and mercy. Over and over, we experience the interior life of Jesus as we walk with him throughout the gospels, through his Word. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (quoted in The Joy of the Gospel, p.4). This was the experience of the man born blind, and this is what is offered to us with each encounter with Jesus: we are gifted with eyes of faith, and a new horizon of being and living, led by God’s unconditional love. Our faith encounter with Jesus is grounded in the irrevocable covenant relationship with God: “My Love will never leave you” (Is 54:10).
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess