4th Sunday in Lent Year A
March 26, 2017
Hong Kong, the place where I grew up was very colonial in the 50’s and 60’s. People were classified as “common” or “high class”, “ignorant” or “all knowing” depending on where we live, what school we attend, who we work for. We abhorred this class distinction, that’s why we came to Canada. Many people throughout the world, including Canada, think they are the “all knowing” and that their view is the only reasonable view. We experience this in politics, in community, at work, in schools. Some people are absolutely convinced that anyone who sees things differently have no clue what is best for them and so they despise others who disagree. These people might even interfere other people’s lives such as their relationship with God and belittle people of faith. They are convinced they are right when in reality, they are blind. They are blind to the Presence of God in their own lives and in the world. They cannot see God standing right in front of them. And then there is the common everyday woman or man going to church every Sunday, the elderly lady who devotes her life to prayer, the young family who makes tremendous sacrifices to provide a Christian home for their children, the teen who stays away from the party everyone is talking about because he or she knows there is going to be alcohol and drugs. These are the people the arrogant call blind. But these everyday people are really the people who have sight.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading, John 9:1-41 on the blind man is the story about a simple man who opens to God’s presence and the arrogant men who cannot see the Christ standing right in front of them. The blind man is the one with sight. The Pharisees, those great luminaries and self-proclaimed “all knowing”, are blind. Little has changed in the world for the past 2000+ years. Today, we go to work, to school, and these so-called “all knowing” belittle us because we are people of faith. But they are all blind to: What is life really about? What is the purpose for all of our struggles? Where can lasting happiness be found?
These self styled “all knowing” cannot answer these questions. But we can. Life is about God who loves us and gave us life. We exist to love, honour and serve Him. With God as our centre, every aspect of our life has meaning and purpose. His love is experienced in the love of our family, our marriage, our Church family. We experience His Love in each other. There is so much more to life than the physical, the worldly. Lasting happiness does exist. It comes from union with God. No one can take this happiness from us. Even those who are persecuted for their faith remain at peace with the Lord. We watched the 1971 Japanese movie “Silence”. (There is a 2016 version by Martin Scorsese) The most memorable scene in the film for me was the sea-side crucifixion of three courageous lay believers. Tied to crosses by the shore, they were, in the course of several days, buffeted by the incoming tide until they drown. While they were facing death, they sang and praised God for leading them to the temple of paradise. Like those Japanese martyrs, we will remain faithful when we are mocked for our Christian lifestyle, we will remain at peace with the Lord. We possess the happiness that lasts. We pray every day for the strength and courage to keep us from sacrificing this happiness to the empty promises of those who do not know God. And we pray that others might see too.
There are many in this world, in our communities, even in our families who have an intense desire to find meaning in their lives. There are many people who wonder why they go through the motions of life, rejoicing at births and weddings, mourning disappointments and deaths, working hard to enjoy a day or so off a week and a few weeks off a year, and all the time wondering if there could possibly be more to life than what the world offers. Many people are hurting and are sick of living in a state of mundane boredom. They are sick of being blind. Today, we pray that they may open their eyes and see, see Jesus Christ standing right in front of them. We pray that they may focus on the Lord and find meaning. We pray that they might join us in the realization that everything makes sense when we are united to Jesus Christ.
It is not enough for us just to call ourselves Christians. We have to bring Jesus Christ to others. Just as Jesus healed a man who was blind, we must lead others out of darkness into the Light of Christ. Pope Francis frequently reminds and summons us to share our joy and proclaim with our lives to those who are searching: Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. (Amazing Grace, Lyric)
-Deacon Raymond Chan