Homily 4th Sunday of Lent Cycle A March 11, 2018

At the end of the story, there’s a lot of moving parts, and a bunch of confusion.
The parents of the man born blind are confused, telling the religious leaders they don’t know what happened to their son. And they add this to their confused state; “Ask him yourself. He’s of age. He’s old enough and mature enough to answer for himself.” So much for family support!
Then there’s the religious leaders who are totally befuddled. The best they can come up with is to claim that he’s performed this unexplainable act on the sabbath. As they themselves were probably performing some chores behind everyone’s back no one could see, they were breaking the law of resting on the Sabbath, with their guns and cannons blazing away at Jesus for giving sight to a blind man from birth. That sounds a little too much like our upside-down world today.
And even the neighbors of the blind man who was cured; people who grew up with him, on the same street, with connecting backyards and shared gardens…even they ask the question, ‘Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg? Isn’t this our neighbor?” They fail to recognize him with his sight. They only knew him with his blindness. Thus, they’re all confused.
So, when this story comes to a close before the Gospel writer John moves on to chapter 10 and the story of the Good Shepherd, every participant is confused in some form. So let’s make this very clear up front; confusion is not, and is never, ever the intention of Jesus. Nor his heavenly Father. Nor the Spirit. Our Savior wishes to confuse us about as much as the adversary from the lowest regions of you know where wishes to make our lives crystal clear. When it comes to confusion, Jesus and the Devil don’t trade places. With Christ, there is none. With the Pitchfork-Holder, there is nothing but.
So when a loving deed is performed, in this case by Jesus, and confusion settles into the hearts of those connected with the good deed, then there’s a sure sign of lack of faith. Which is grounded in the Pitchfork-Holder. Lack of faith says that God does not interfere in the course of human events in ways that are profound and amazing. And if that happens to be the thought possessing a person’s heart, then how can we believe that Jesus is raised from the dead, which is the peak of amazing events.
All these Gospels in this 3-week stretch; the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well; the man born blind; and next Sunday the raising of Lazarus; at the heart of each of them is Jesus pulling one thing out of us, and placing something else within us. He’s tearing out, and yanking out, and dragging out, and removing the curse of unbelief and confusion. He’s ripping it out like a dog will rip apart the sock of its owner. When the dog is finished, there’s only one place left for the sock, and it’s not on your foot. Toss it in the trash. That’s where any of our unbelief and confusion in the Lord belongs. He wants our belief in him, all the way to the point of Lazarus next week; to the point of our death.
And what he’s removing from within us through these incredible stories, he’s replacing it with belief; with the absence of confusion; with trust that he carries the heavy burdens with us; and with the ultimate truth that we will arrive at the permanent joy of being with him where suffering and death are no more.
Everyone in this Gospel is missing the joy of Jesus, except for the blind man who can now see. He’s the only one who gets it. He’s the only one secure, mature, humble and wise enough to ask, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” “Who are you, Lord, that I may believe in you. Make it crystal clear for me.”
One of the greater purposes of Lent is for us to do less and less searching for the many false gods that seek our attention, and narrow down our search for worship to Christ. And stay with him for good. But the attractiveness of the world returns, which can cause us to easily lose sight of Christ.
I’m certain that the man born blind failed to lose sight of Jesus after this amazing act of love that our Lord performed on him, with spit, dirt, and everything else. Whereas everyone else involved in the story is confused, having no wisdom to explain and accept God’s intervention, the former blind man comes to faith and worship, and you just know he stays there for good.
That’s one constant spiritual challenge for us. We all have our belief in Jesus our Savior. If not, we would be out playing indoor soccer, or indoor golf, or shopping at the Natick Mall or Patriot Place right now. We all are blessed with belief in Christ. But the man born blind takes us to the level where our belief in Jesus, although tested at times, will never run dry.
As everyone else in the Gospel story today is shrouded in darkness, we are called to live by the words of St. Paul in today’s reading: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead (arise from the dead of confusion), and Christ will give you light.”
He is the Light-Giver in our lives, and never the Confusion-Giver. His love, his mercy, his power, and his teachings offer us light, removing the blindness of doubt, inviting us to stay with him for good, following the same path of the man born blind.