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March 26, Chioma SJ - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Fourth Sunday of Lent  

March 26, 2017

1 Sm 16: 1b. 6-7. 10-13a/ Ps 23: 1-3a. 3b-4. 5. 6 (1)/ Eph 5: 8-14/ Jn 9: 1-41

By *Fr. Chioma Nwosu, SJ

John's Gospel tells the story of the man born blind, whom Jesus heals and whose situation provokes a great discussion about sin and salvation. In an opening conversation prompted by the sight of a blind man, Jesus directed attention at once to the "night . . . when no one can work" and to himself as "the light of the world." To appreciate Jesus' statement we need to recall the role of light in our daily existence.

Natural light from the sun or artificial light from electricity is indispensable to human existence. Imagine life on earth without light: plants won't grow, food supply will be no more thus leading to hunger, starvation and death. Without light, we will be bumping into each other and if we walk into a room we are liable to crash into tables and chairs. Light sustains human life and makes it possible to see whatever is there and to know what to do. The opposite of light is darkness. We know from our experience that darkness is not a place to be; we like to be in the light. In the Nigerian context, with near absence of electricity, the epileptic supply of electric light at night is often greeted with applause and joy by children! We like to see and without light we are in darkness.

Jesus stated, "I am the light of the world." Jesus makes it possible for eyes encased in darkness to see. The blind man whom Jesus healed of his blindness, when interrogated by the Pharisees (who arrogate to themselves the certainty in the knowledge of sin and salvation i.e. a claim to see), simply said "I know this much: I was blind before; now I can see." Here juxtaposing the blind man for whom the presence of Jesus makes possible to see, with the Pharisees who are blind to who Jesus is, John's Gospel points us to the real blindness. It is spiritual blindness. If physical blindness was the worst type of punishment for sin, spiritual blindness must be the worst type of spiritual illness. Jesus' coming divides those who truly see from those like the Pharisees who claim to see but are blind. Jesus, the light of the world gives both physical sight and spiritual insight to the man, while the leaders remain blind in their refusal to see.

Lenten season is a season of conversion from darkness to God's wonderful light, from blindness to seeing. We too, like the Pharisees have one form of spiritual blindness or another. We do not yet see God's world as clearly as we should. Our "seeing" is imperfect, often tainted with false values, self-centredness, prejudice, hypocrisy, selfish ambition, personal aggrandizement etc. We need the help of God's grace to recognize the elements of spiritual blindness in our lives so that Jesus, the Light of the world may heal us and make us truly see. Let our prayer be simply: Lord, that I may see.

*Fr. Chioma Nwosu, SJ, is the Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church at Ilasamaja in Lagos, Nigeria. 

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