Sunday, March 30, is the Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year A, Cycle II).
1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23:1-6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
Meeting God in a new, significant way is a life-changing encounter that transforms us and fills us with peace and healing. But externally, the encounter often makes our lives more difficult.
Take David in the first reading. The story of the Lord choosing him is a great moment in salvation history. But this is not the glorious end to David’s story; it is, rather, the beginning of his story of hardship and struggle. God came into David’s life, and that was when his trouble started.
The same thing happens to the man born blind in the Gospel. He has an intense, healing encounter with Christ, who restores his sight. But rejection and hardship follow.
First, his neighbors reject him, openly speculate about him and pronounce him a suspicious person who needs to be reported to the Pharisees.
Next, the Pharisees interrogate him and publicly speculate that he is a sinner. He is now ostracized by his neighbors and his faith leaders.
But then it gets even worse. His parents are brought in: Given the choice between standing by their son or saving face in front of the Pharisees, they reject their son.
So the immediate consequences of the man’s encounter with Christ are terrible: He is ostracized by his neighbors, his priests and his own family. He met God, and that was when his troubles started.
But what else happens? The blind man’s new gift of physical sight is accompanied by an increased spiritual insight, and at each stage in the story, he sees something new.
He doesn’t speak vaguely about his cure to his neighbors. He gives Jesus Christ full credit. When the Pharisees object to his words about Jesus, he doesn’t backtrack from them either. Then, after his parents reject him, he comes to further insight and boldness. He now directly takes on the Pharisees’ strained reasoning and calls it "amazing" that they "do not know where [Jesus] is from," telling them, "If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything."
His new sight has allowed him to see what those close to him cannot: Jesus Christ is special.
Next, he comes to Christ.
"Do you believe in the Son of Man?" asks Jesus. "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" he replies. After a word from Jesus, he gives one of the Gospels’ greatest testimonies of faith: "He said, ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshipped him."
He may have been rejected and underappreciated, but he gained something indescribably great: He met his Creator and knew the meaning of his life.
One day, for each of us, Jesus came into our lives, and that is when our troubles started. But that was also the day those troubles were dwarfed by an infinite gift: the blessing of faith, which always brings peace.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.