I Sam 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13: Eph 5: 8-14; Jn 9: 1-41
Although we have made tremendous progress in unearthing the laws that govern this universe we live in, there are certain murky areas of our experience that remain unexplained by science.
In certain parts of the world Crop circles formed. They are patterns that are found in fields of rye and corn. The crops are bent near the root to create strange patterns in the field. It is a fact that occurs yearly.
In the Nazca Desert of Peru, there are a series of a drawing on the ground (geolyphs). There are no known records in human history of their creation though it is well established that they are of ancient origin. This strange patterns stretches for over more than 80 kilometres between the Peruvian towns of Nazca and Palpa.
The Rain of Fish is common in Honduran Folklore. It occurs in the Departamento de Yoro, between the months of May and July. Witnesses of this phenomenon state that it begins with a dark cloud in the sky followed by lightning, thunder, strong winds and heavy rain for 2 to 3 hours. Once the rain has stopped, hundreds of living fish are found on the ground.
Twice a year, between the months of February and March, the Atlantic Ocean waters roll up the Amazon River, in Brazil, generating the longest wave on the Earth. The phenomenon, known as the Pororoca, is caused by the tides of the Atlantic Ocean which meet the mouth of the river. This tidal bore generates waves up to 12 feet high which can last for over half an hour.
These are some facts of nature. Still, as they are extra ordinary, human tendency is to dismiss them or try to fund a justification for them. Man’s approach to the works of God too is the same. Since, man cannot humble himself to accept the extraordinary interventions of God, he tries to ignore them or dismiss them.
The first reading tells us that God’s ways are different from that of man. Today’s passage shows us Samuel's journey to find the Lord's chosen one, and the ritual for anointing the new king. As an old and experienced judge who had studied how the first king (Saul) had failed, Samuel had his own ideas about whom he should choose. But God asked him to choose the most unlikely candidate, namely, David, the shepherd boy, the last son of Jesse. The reason given for this choice was: "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart."
Today’s Gospels tells the story of the obstinacy of the Pharisees to accept the ways of God. Jesus gave to the blind beggar eyesight. The stubborn pride and prejudice of the Pharisees prevented them from seeing the hand of God in it. This made them incapable of recognizing a miracle. When the parents of the blind man convinced them that their son had been born blind, the Pharisees argued that the healer was a "sinner," because the miracle had been performed on the Sabbath. But the cured man insisted that Jesus, his healer, must be from God. The blind man was asked: "Who healed you?" First he answered, “A prophet healed me.” Then he answered, “The Son of Man healed me.” Finally, when he realized who Jesus was, he fell down on his knees and worshipped him. As a result, he was excommunicated. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight reminds us that we need God’s grace and revelation to move toward sharper spiritual vision.” (Fr. Harrington S.J.)
Various groups reacted quite differently when they were confronted with the miracle of Jesus.
The crowd lost themselves in a useless discussion, whether the man was the one they had known as a blind beggar or if he was someone else. The man pointed out to them the source of his joy. He gave testimony that Jesus healed him. But this miracle did not make any change in them. Because they were open. They did not want to come out of their comfort zone. Had they accepted the testimony of the man that would have meant that they had accepted the message of Jesus, which demanded a drastic change from them? Jesus demanded, ‘Turn away from evil and do good.” We cannot fill a cup that is already full. We can fill only an empty cup. A certain man, well-educated and wealthy, was attracted by the teachings of a Guru. So, he went to the guru and requested him to accept him to be his disciple. The guru did that. He started his training with others. At the end of the year all the disciples assembled. It was their graduation day. The guru was seated. He called out the names of those who were to be promoted to the next stage. The young man expected that his name would be the first, as he was learned and wealthy. To his surprise he found that the Guru did not call him at all. He was disqualified, and had to repeat the training. One more year passed. Again he was disqualified. He was furious and he went to the Guru and asked. I am learned. I know everything that you taught. But you disqualified me the second time. I want to know the reason. The guru said calmly. You have already said the reason. You are full with your ideas. So, you are not ready to accept my teachings. When we come to the church we often come with this attitude. Instead of receiving the message with an open heart, we try to evaluate, analyse the content and find excuses. Because we do not want to change. The message of Jesus demands a change from. A change in our relationship, a change in our attitude, a change in our thoughts and behaviour. The season of lent demands from us this transformation.
Secondly, we see the reaction of the parents of the blind man. They took the miracle as an embarrassment, since it got them into trouble with the religious leaders. All they thought of was how to get out of the trouble; that explain their reply to them:” he is old enough; let him speak for himself.” There are many of us who do not want to get involved in anything. When we see injustice we close our eyes, because we do not want to get into trouble. We get many opportunities to real truth, but we keep silence because we do not want to get into trouble. If everyone had thought the same way the world would have been reeling under slavery. Gandhiji thought differently and spoke for the whole nation of India. Martin Luther King thought differently and he championed the cause of hiss race. All the martyrs thought differently and they stood for their faith. Today Jesus wants us to take responsibility of our faith and stand by it. It might get us into trouble. But that is our mission.
Thirdly, we see the reaction of the Leaders. Pride and hatred prevented them from following Jesus. Their self-righteousness was an insurmountable block. So they said, “We know that his man is a sinner….! We are the disciples of Moses.” It often happens with us too, that we hold on to the rites and formalities that we ignore the message of Jesus. We take pride in our culture and social relationships, and often they turn out to be a barrier in accepting the message of Jesus. So to accept the message of Jesus we have to get rid of our Spiritual and cultural blindness.
Then, we see the reaction of the man who was healed by Jesus. Each moment brought him to a deeper knowledge of Jesus. His experience was so profound that the leaders with all their knowledge of the Law could not stand his wisdom. Whoever trust in God receive great strength from God. That is the lesson the life of martyrs teach us. Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping. The Prefect of Rome thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. He said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: "This is the Church's treasure!" In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. He was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. "Turn me over," he said to the judge. "I'm done on this side!" And just before he died, he said, "It's cooked enough now." He went to receive the martyr's reward.
Jesus touches our lives in various ways. But, often we do not have the courage to accept these blessings and acknowledge them. Let us open our eyes, see the miracles that Jesus has performed in our lives and accept them with gratitude.