Lent IV Sunday (March 19) 1- page summary for 8- minute homily (L/23)
Lent IV Sunday (March 19) 1- page summary for 8- minute homily (L/23)
Introduction: The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday,” expressing the Church's joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord. Today’s readings remind us that it is God Who both gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul and instructs us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness.
Scripture lessons summarized: By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. It reminds us that those whom God involves in his saving plans are not necessarily those whom the world perceives as great. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light “to live as children of the light, producing every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” In today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 23), we celebrate the care of God, our Good Shepherd, who keeps us safe in the darkness of this world. Presenting the miracle of Jesus’ giving of sight to a man born blind, today’s Gospel teaches us the necessity of being willing to have our eyes opened by Faith, and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the beggar born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. To live as a Christian is to see and to grow continually, gaining clearer vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should help to heal our spiritual blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God, and love them as our own brothers and sisters, saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind-spots -- in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We are often blind to the presence of the Triune God dwelling within us and fail to appreciate His presence in others. Even practicing Christians can be blind to the poverty, injustice, and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blindness. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness: self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits, hardness of heart, and the like. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly” day by day. 2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind-spots. Often it is blind to things like selfless love, happiness, fidelity with true, committed sexual love in marriage, and the value of human life from birth to natural death. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering in the world around us. Let us counteract this cultural blindness as, with His grace, we experience Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and a genuine Sacramental life.
Lent IV [A] (March 19): I Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: -Annie Sullivan healing of Helen Keller’s blindness and deafness: When Helen Keller was two years old a serious illness destroyed both her sight and her hearing. Imagine being unable to see or hear! When she was seven, a teacher named Annie Sullivan tackled the apparently impossible job of making contact with Helen’s mind through the sense of touch. Annie Sullivan worked out a sort of alphabet by which she spelled words on Helen’s hand. Gradually the child was able to connect the words with objects. Once started, Helen made rapid progress. Within three years she could read and write in Braille. At the age of ten she decided to perfect her speech. At 16 she entered Radcliff college from which she graduated with honors in 1904 and she became one of the most highly educated women of her time. Annie Sullivan was constantly at her side until the dedicated teacher died in 1936. -- Today’s Good News tells us how Jesus cured a man of his blindness, giving him both physical and spiritual eyesight. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#2: "Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent:” Sherlock Holmes and his smart assistant Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, enjoy a heavy barbeque dinner with a bottle of whisky, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson replies, "I see millions of stars." "What does that tell you?” Watson ponders for a minute. "Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. "Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent!”-- Watson had missed the most obvious observation. He was clever enough to notice the complexities of the stars, but he missed what was plain and simple. Today’s Gospel reading is about a whole lot of people who miss the point. In Jesus’ healing of a blind man, the Pharisees missed the most evident point that it was a real miracle by Divine intervention. (http://www.lothlorien.net/collections/humor/watson.html ) . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#3: Obstacles and triumphs: History is replete with stories of people who triumphed over seemingly insurmountable disadvantages and challenges. Homer was blind, as was John Milton, but both men achieved unparalleled status as poets. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his Ninth Symphony, so deaf that when his work was first performed, he could not hear a note of the magnificent ode, “Joy, thou heavenly spark of Godhead,” with which the symphony concludes. Thomas Edison, who lost his hearing at the age of eight went on to invent over 100 useful devices, including the phonograph and moving pictures. Alexander the Great and Alexander Pope suffered skeletal deformities as did Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Epictetus and Franklin Roosevelt. Francis Mouthelon, a man with no hands was awarded first prize by the French society of artists for the most excellent painting of 1875. Helen Keller, one of the world’s most renowned women, was blind, deaf and mute from early childhood, yet she became a teacher, author and educator. Anne Sullivan, Keller’s teacher and companion for 49 years was half-blind at birth, orphaned, and institutionalized as a young girl. Nevertheless, she devoted her life to the care of the blind. When Sullivan became totally blind as an adult, Keller took on the role of teacher, helping her devoted friend to overcome her inability to see. George Frederick Handel, the great musician suffered several setbacks. He lost his health and his right side was paralyzed. When he lost his money, his creditors threatened to imprison him. In the throes of his darkest days, Handel composed his finest work, The Hallelujah Chorus, which is part of his Messiah, citing his Faith in God as the only thing that sustained him. -- Triumphs like these bolster the human spirit with the knowledge that handicaps, and hardships need not remain incapacitating; indeed, such experiences can prove to be the impetus for achieving greatness. The Lenten season challenges us to reflect on those obstacles, which tend to stunt our spiritual development. Let us remember that, like the people mentioned above and like the blind man in today’s Gospel, we are also capable of overcoming whatever stands between us and the wholeness to which God calls us. (Sanchez archives). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 4: The gift of true eye- sight: Have you ever played a game with a blindfold? Or, have you ever been on a trust walk, where you are blindfolded and led by another person? Playing games with a blindfold helps us appreciate the gift of sight. Sight is a double blessing in a culture in which the media manipulate visual contents, patterns, and timing. A quickly edited, fast moving commercial on television proves the point; your eyes quickly "read" the message. Through the cure of a person born blind, John's Gospel presents sight in a spiritual sense. Sometimes a person can look, but not see. Here, the blind man received not only the ability to use his eyes but the gift to see the truth. (Word Sunday.com). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Scripture lessons summarized: By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. It also reminds us that those whom God involves in His saving plans are not necessarily those whom the world perceives as great. In today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 23), we celebrate the care of God, our Good Shepherd, singing, “even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for You are at my side with Your rod and Your staff that give me courage.” In the second reading, Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” Jesus’ giving of sight to a blind man, reported in today’s Gospel, teaches us the necessity of our having our spiritual and mental eyes opened by Faith and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the beggar born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. "There are none so blind, as those who will not see." To live as a Christian is to see, to have continually growing and deepening clearer vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are to live as children of the light, seeking what is good and right , true and beautiful. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God, and love them as our own brothers and sisters, saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
First reading: I Sm 16:1a, 6-7, 10-13a explained: For a long time, Israel had been ruled by Judges. Samuel was the last of these Judges, and towards the end of his life he had more or less succeeded in forming a loose confederation among the twelve tribes of the Israelites with the Lord God as their Sovereign Ruler. But the people were displeased with the lack of unity and political security. The pagan nations which surrounded them were ruled by kings who led them to battle and who organized their territories on a sound, political basis. In spite of the Lord’s warning and the wise advice of the elders, the people demanded a king so that they could be like other nations. Finally, the Lord granted them Saul as their first king (1030 BC). Though successful in many battles, Saul offended God, and the kingship was taken from him. The Lord then prompted Samuel, the last Judge in Israel, to go to Bethlehem to anoint the next king. 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 God would choose. But God chose the most unlikely candidate, namely, David, the shepherd boy, the youngest son of Jesse. The reason He gave Samuel for this choice was: "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart."
The second Reading: Eph 5:8-14 explained: The whole passage extends the darkness-versus-light metaphor, leading to the blindness-versus-sight theme of today's Gospel. For Paul, Baptism is a “participation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus” (Rom 6:3-4) and a “clothing with Christ’’ (Gal 3:27). In today’s reading, taken from his letter to the Ephesians, Paul echoes Is 26:19; 60 , saying that Baptism is also an “awakening and living in the light”— that is, Christ: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." That is why in the early Greek-speaking Church, Baptism came to be known as photismos meaning "an illumination or bath in light." Hence, Paul reminds Christians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” The Benedictine Bible scholar, Ivan Havener explicates today’s passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians thus: “The readers of this letter were once Gentiles without Christ and were darkness itself, but now as Gentiles in the Lord, they have become light. Their new identity as children of light requires that they live in a different way. The fruit produced by their light-life is all goodness, righteousness, and truth, considering what is pleasing to the Lord. Therefore, instead of participating in the unproductive works of darkness, they should condemn such deeds.”
Gospel Exegesis: The paradox of blindness. The healing described in today’s Gospel occurred when Jesus came to Jerusalem with his Apostles to participate in the feast of Tabernacles or the festival of tents (Sukkoth). As part of the celebration of Sukkot, four huge golden four-branched candelabra were set up and lit in the courts of the Temple—each was 50 cubits (=75 feet) high. The Mishnah says that “there was not a courtyard in all of Jerusalem” that did not gleam with the light from the Temple menorahs when they were lit for Sukkot. The healing of the blind man, told so dramatically in today's Gospel, brings out the mercy and kindness of Jesus, "the light of the world." Isaiah prophesied, and the Jewish people of that era believed, that when the Messiah came, he would heal blindness and other diseases. The type of blindness which we now call ophthalmic conjunctivitis was very common in Biblical times. Jesus gave to the beggar who was born blind not only his bodily eyesight but also the light of Faith. This story also shows how the stubborn pride and prejudice of the Pharisees prevented them from seeing in the humble "Son of Man” the long-expected Messiah, and that made them incapable of recognizing the miracle. The healed beggar begins by identifying Jesus as “a man.” Questioned further by the Pharisees, he declares that the man who healed him is a Prophet. 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 a man from God, and they excommunicated him from Temple worship. When Jesus heard this, He sought and found the man He had healed, and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” the man answered, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” In response to Jesus,’ “You have seen Him, and the One speaking with you is He,” the now-sighted man said, “… ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshipped Him.” Fr. Harrington S.J. comments, “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight reminds us that we need God’s grace and revelation to move toward sharper spiritual vision.”
Blindness and Baptism: The healing of the blind man by Jesus involved clay, spittle, smearing or anointing of the eyes with the saliva and a washing in water. Early baptismal rituals incorporated similar gestures and the sacrament of baptism was referred to as enlightenment (Heb 6:4, 10:32; Justin Martyr, Apologia 1.61-12, 65:1)). In the context of the Lenten RCIA scrutinies, the Church challenges us to see this man’s journey from darkness to light as a paradigm for our own spiritual lives—from the darkness of doubt to belief (for catechumens preparing for Baptism); from the darkness of sin to the light of repentance, mercy, and freedom (for those of us already baptized, who are called to renew our Baptismal promises, and to “own” our Baptism more consciously). From earliest times, today's Gospel story has been associated with Baptism. Just as the blind man went down into the waters of Siloam and came up whole, so also believers who are immersed in the waters of Baptism come up spiritually whole, totally healed of the spiritual blindness with which all of us are born. Raymond Brown comments that in the lectionaries and liturgical books of the early Church, there developed the practice of three examinations before one's Baptism. These correspond to the three interrogations of the man born blind. When the catechumens had passed their examinations, and were judged worthy of Baptism, the Gospel book was solemnly opened and the ninth chapter of John was read, with the confession of the blind man, "I do believe, Lord," serving as the climax of the service. Paintings on the walls of the catacombs of Rome portray Jesus healing the man born blind as a symbol of Holy Baptism. One of the writings from that time says: "Happy is the Sacrament of our water, in that, by washing away the sins of our earthly blindness, we are set free unto eternal life." The early Christians looked at their Baptism as leaving behind blindness and darkness and stepping into the glorious light of God. In other words, they realized that their becoming Christians and then continuing as followers of Christ, was indeed a miracle - as great as, if not greater than, the healing of the physical blindness of the man in the Gospel today.
The spiritual blindness of the Pharisees: The Pharisees suffered from spiritual blindness. They were blind to the Holy Spirit. They had the externals of religion but lacked the spirit of Jesus’ love. They were also blind to the suffering and pain right before their eyes. They refused to see pain and injustice. There was no compassion in their hearts. In short, they were truly blind both to the Holy Spirit and to the human misery around them. “The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight is paralleled by the opponents’ descent into spiritual blindness.” (Fr. Harrington). Here is a contrast between those who know they are blind and those who claim to see. According to these blind Pharisees, Jesus, by healing the blind man doubly broke the Sabbath law, which forbade works of healing, and also kneading which was involved in making clay of spittle and dust. Raymond Brown adds a third and fourth reason that increased the seriousness of what Jesus had done: in the Jewish tradition: "there was an opinion that it was not permitted to anoint an eye on the Sabbath," and "one may not put fasting spittle on the eyes on the Sabbath." So, they concluded, "The man who did this cannot be from God, because he does not obey the Sabbath law."
Spiritual blindness of modern Pharisees: Although the Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, there are still many among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice. Spiritual blindness is very common in modern times. Perhaps, the most awful disease in our country today is the spiritual blindness which refuses to see the truths of God's revelation, and even to admit that God or Christ exists. In their pride, the spiritually blind claim that everything ends with death and that there is no life after death. They propagate their errors and accuse believers of childish credulity and folly. They ignore the gifts of the intellect we all possess. God's revelation through Christ informs us that there is a future life awaiting us in which our spiritual faculties and our transformed bodies will be fully and fittingly glorified. According to Pope Benedict XVI, the miracle of the healing of the blind man is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision, so that our Faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize Him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as "children of the light" (Lenten message-2011).
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. Physiologically, the “blind-spot” is the part of our eye where vision is not experienced. It is the spot where the optic nerve enters the eyeball. A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver. In real life, we all have blind-spots -- in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light. It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees: religious in worship, in frequenting the Sacraments, in prayer-life, in tithing, and in knowledge of the Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice, and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blind spots. We need to ask Jesus to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, among them, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly” day by day.
2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind-spots. Often it is blind to things like love, happiness, marriage, and true, committed sexual love in marriage. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering of the world around us. Our culture, our media, our movies and our values, are often blind as to what it means to love selflessly and sacrificially. Our culture, in spite of scientific proofs, is blind to the reality that life begins at the moment of conception, and it callously promotes abortion. We continue to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual “marriages,” transgenderism, euthanasia, and human cloning, and we refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society. In the name of individual rights, the radical left in our society decries any public demonstration of religious beliefs and practices, or the public appearance of traditional values, questioning the substance of family values. The radical right, on the other hand, decries the immorality of our times, without lifting a finger to help the poor and the underprivileged and without ever questioning unjust foreign policies and wars. This cultural blindness can only be overcome as each one of us enters the living experience of having Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible and a genuine Sacramental life.
3) We need to pray for clear vision: Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the United States Congress used to pray, "Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” Today’s Gospel challenges our ability to see clearly. Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular religion? Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners? Do we fail to see God at work in our lives because He has shown us no miracles? Jonathan Swift said, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." Let us remember that this gift belongs to those who can see the good hidden in the kernels of suffering and of failure. It resides in those who never give up hope. Let us pray for the grace to see and experience the presence of a loving and forgiving God.
4) Let us not allow the world and Satan to blind us so that we forget our real identity and call – that we have been created by God and bought with the blood of Jesus; that we have been adopted as God's chosen children; and, consequently, that our role is to become God's representatives in our community and our world. We are called to “stand out” by the way we show love and concern for others. We are called to promote justice and peace; to set an example of what it means to live according to God's way. We are called to discipleship – that means leading a disciplined life of prayer, the study of God's Word, worship with our fellow Christians, and standing out in the crowd (even though that may be difficult to do), when it means sticking up for those who are being wronged and confessing that Christ in our lives does make a difference. It’s so easy to miss the point of what it means to be a Christian, and we end up “blending in” and fail to become a positive and powerful influence bringing about positive changes in people’s lives and in our world. Lent is a good time to take stock of how we are affected by this blindness, to see just how blind we have been to Jesus and His call to discipleship, and to realise how often we have preferred to stay blind. Lent is a good time to renew our vision and fix our eyes again on the Saviour who came so that we can be assured of forgiveness for such blindness, for the times when Jesus has come to us through his word and we have been too blind to see him, and too deaf to hear him calling us to action.
5)“Lord give me Your eyes.” This is a beautiful prayer which enables us to walk in the true light of Christ, a prayer that God always seems to answer – that we may see things as Christ, that is, in the light of faith. This is also a very useful prayer to pray when we are conversing with someone, so that we can see that person as Christ sees him or her. The prayer is especially helpful when we encounter someone who tries our patience, for rather than continuing to see only the person’s irritating defects, we are helped by the Lord to see what He finds so lovable in that person -- what, in fact, would lead Him to trade his own life for that person all over again if he had to. The prayer is recommended also to those of us who have difficulty overcoming negative thoughts and habitual criticism of others. We pray, “Lord, give me your eyes,” so that we may see not only the good things that God has given the person, but also that we may be able to look with compassion on the various hardships that the other person has endured, leading to some of that person’s irritating habits. It is useful also to those of us who are encountering serious Crosses. With the eyes of Faith, we can see those crosses not so much as mortifications but as gifts from God to help us to grow in holiness, to acquire Christ’s own virtues, to unite ourselves to Christ on the Cross and follow him up close all the way through the Cross to glory. It is helpful to those of us who have a problem with our own self-esteem and morale, for when we turn to Jesus to ask for His eyes, we are asking him to help us that we can discover our own selves in our true dignity and recognize how tremendously lovable we are to God. For those of us who have trouble with contrition, examining our lives and hearts from God’s perspective -- with God‘s eyes -- we will be better able to see just how horrible our sins are and what each of them cost the Lord.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
#1: The blind farmer was often taken for a walk in the fields by a kind neighbor. However kindly the neighbor might have been, he was undoubtedly a coward. When a bull charged towards them one day, he abandoned the blind man. The bull, puzzled by a lack of fear, nudged the blind farmer in the back. He turned very quickly, caught the bull by the horns and threw it to the ground with a bump that left it breathless. "Aidan," shouted the neighbor, "I never knew you were so strong." "It’s the strength of Faith,” said the blind man. “If I could have got that fella off the handlebars of his bicycle, I'd have thrashed him properly." (He was under the impression that a bicycle had hit him).
#2: A blind man is walking down the street with his guide dog one day. They come to a busy intersection and the dog, ignoring the high volume of traffic zooming by on the street, leads the blind man right out into the thick of the traffic. This is followed by the screech of tires as panicked drivers try desperately not to run the pair down. Horns blaring around them, the blind man and the dog finally reach the safety of the sidewalk on the other side of the street, and the blind man pulls a cookie out of his coat pocket, which he offers to the dog. A passerby, having observed the near fatal incident, can't control his amazement and says to the blind man, "Why on earth are you rewarding your dog with a cookie? He nearly got you killed!" The blind man turns partially in his direction and replies, "To find out where his head is, so I can kick his rear end!"
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups) (The easiest method to visit these websites is to copy and paste the web address or URL on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).
1) Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies
2) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/ (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)
3) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)
4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle A Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/
5) Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/
6) Bishop Barron’s Sunday video homily for Lent IV Sunday
7) Fr. William Grimm’s video homily: https://youtu.be/GSh0iCfftpg
8) Lenten reflections: 1) https://youtu.be/MOstFC5QZyc
30- Additional anecdotes
1) “Amazing Grace” is the story of the healing of one person’s personal as well as cultural blindness. John Newton was born in 1740 in England. He grew up in the Anglican Church. As a little boy he went to Church and learned Bible lessons. His mother died when he was only eleven, and so he traveled with his father who was the captain and owner of a cargo ship. The “cargo” was two to three hundred black slaves packed, lying next to each other, in the ship’s hold. In a storm, little John Newton was washed overboard and was picked up on the open seas by a slave trader who trained John in his trade as he grew up. Before his conversion, Newton's life had become so debauched, irreverent, and immoral that even his fellow sailors were shocked by his conduct and coarse speech. On one return voyage to England, Newton was caught in such a fierce storm that all aboard despaired of life. The Scriptures John had once learned at his mother's knee returned to his mind, and he began to hope that Jesus could deliver him, dreadful sinner though he was. For the first time in years, John sought the Lord in prayer, and as he later wrote, "the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.” It was on March 21, a date he remembered yearly for the rest of his life, that Newton began to realize the enormity of the evil in his life and his complicity with the evil of slavery in his slave-trading. He left the ship, joined the seminary, was ordained and became a zealous pastor. Thanking God for the grace of conversion, he composed a song which is now one of Americans' favorite hymns: “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” -- Jesus always comes to heal people who are spiritually blind if they ask for help. Newton, like his culture, had a huge personal blind-spot -- tolerance for slave-trading. And Jesus healed John Newton’s spiritual blindness. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) Anne Mansfield Sullivan and Helen Keller: Anne Mansfield Sullivan was a “miracle worker” who overcame obstacles in seeking to assist others. Partially blind from birth, she managed to overcome this handicap and graduated from the prestigious Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. The miracle of Anne Sullivan's life, however, had very little to do with her own handicap, but it had everything to do with the multiple handicaps of a young girl. The miracle began to be manifest on March 2, 1887, when twenty-year-old Anne Mansfield Sullivan met six-year-old Helen Keller. Helen was born in 1880, a healthy and strong child. At nineteen months of age, however, she contracted a disease, which left her blind, deaf, and ultimately mute; Helen Keller lived in a world of total darkness and silence. When Helen was six, her mother sent Helen with her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. He subsequently put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell knew Anne Sullivan and arranged for the first meeting between student and teacher. Anne Sullivan's task was monumental. The first thing that was necessary was for Anne to gain Helen's confidence, which was accomplished with relative ease. The next step, however, would be much more difficult. Anne needed to teach Helen that her condition afforded her the opportunity to see, hear, and speak in new and different ways, to communicate on another level. Helen Keller could not see images and she could not read the words on the printed page, but she could feel and, thus, learned to read through the use of Braille. Helen could not hear or speak, but she did learn to finger-spell and sign in order to communicate with others. Helen Keller learned her lessons well. In fact, she learned so well that in 1904 she graduated cum laude from Radcliff College, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education for women. She went on to become a successful author and an internationally known celebrity who aided the cause of handicapped people throughout the world. It was the life of Anne Mansfield Sullivan, however, which in many ways was the true miracle. She opened the mind of Helen Keller to a world of possibilities. Maybe it is odd to say, but it seems that normal sight, hearing, and speech might have been impediments to Helen Keller, for without them she reached her full potential and greatness. Anne Sullivan was a woman who brought the light to a child shrouded in darkness, silence, and fear. She was not able to cure any of the many physical maladies that plagued Helen Keller, but she brought Helen what may have been more important - that is the light and hope of Faith. -- Jesus, as we hear in today's famous passage from John's Gospel, physically healed the man born blind, but gave him much more; Jesus secured for him the vision of Faith. We, in a similar way, are called to seek the light, cast out the blindness that exists in our lives, and do what we can to assist others to do the same. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) Seeing is believing. Brennan Manning (from Messy Spiritually: God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Michael Yaconeli, quoted in Pulpit Resource, Vol. 33, No. 1, p. 44) tells the story of a man recently converted to Jesus and how an unbelieving friend sought to “see” why. “So you have been converted to Christ?” “Yes.” “Then you must know a great deal about Him. Tell me, what country was he born in?” “I don’t know.” “What was his age when he died?” “I don’t know.” “How many sermons did he preach?” “I don’t know.” “You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.” “You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about him. But his much I know: Three years ago I was a drunkard. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces; they dreaded the sight of me. But now I have given up drink. We are out of debt. Ours is a happy home. My children eagerly await my return home each evening. All this Christ has done for me. This much I know of Christ.” (Rev. Mike Ripski). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) What kind of God do some people have? Kathryn Lindskoog has suffered for two decades with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that gradually weakens and paralyzes the body. She has been amazed at some of the advice she has received from friends and relatives. A few typical examples: "You must really like to be sick; you bring so much of it on yourself." That comment was from a nearby relative who never so much as sent a get-well card. "The reason I have perfect health is that I think right; nobody gets sick unless he thinks wrong." That from another relative. "I know just how you feel about being crippled; I had a bad case of tennis elbow last month." "Your present improvement is just wishful thinking." How's that for encouragement? "I know you fake your limp to try to get attention." That comment was from her pastor. He was entirely serious. And this last one: "God must cherish you to trust you with this burden." [Kathryn Lindskoog, "What do You Say to Job?" Leadership (Spring 1985), 93-94. Quoted in Ron Lee Davis, Healing Life's Hurts (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986).] -- That hurts. What kind of God do some people have? (Rev. King Duncan). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “I believe he overdid it this time." A country preacher was visiting his parishioners after a local flood. He called on a farmer whose crop had washed away and whose cows had all drowned. "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth," quoted the preacher, trying to offer some comfort. The farmer looked at him and said dryly, "Well, I believe He overdid it this time." The farmer was right. -- What kind of God do some people have? Many people were startled to hear TV evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blame the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on God's unhappiness with gays, feminists and People for the American Way. Did these two influential clergymen really mean that God killed thousands of innocent people because God was unhappy with the lifestyles of other people in our land? Is God the ultimate terrorist? What kind of God do some people have? Jesus and his disciples passed a man blind from birth. "Who sinned," asked Jesus' disciples, "this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" What kind of God did these disciples have? (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) "Who sinned," the disciples asked Jesus, "that this man was born sightless?" Back in 1991, there was an article in The New York Times Magazine concerning a group of more than 100 women who reside in Long Beach, California. These women, Cambodian refugees who witnessed the horror of the Pol Pot Regime, are certifiably blind, yet doctors say their eyes function perfectly well. These sightless women suffer from psychosomatic or hysterical blindness. They are really blind, but their blindness stems from their minds; though they have eyes, they are unable to see. The women from Cambodia are sightless because their minds have subconsciously closed out horrific images they did not want to see. Although those having blind sight also have healthy eyes, because of damage to other parts of their neurological system, they are not aware of the images their eyes are transmitting. -- Our lesson from John's Gospel is about a beggar who was born blind. As far as we know, people in Bible times knew nothing about psychosomatic illness, nor did they know about neurological damage. Their explanation for any form of suffering was that someone must have sinned. "Who sinned," the disciples asked Jesus, "that this man was born sightless?" (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) "Did you ever have a taste of Jesus?" Bob Allred tells the story about a country preacher who was listening to a seminary professor cast doubt on the core issues of the Faith. When the professor finished his lecture, the elderly pastor got up, took an apple from his lunch bag and started eating it as he said, "Mr. Professor, I haven't read many of them books you quoted." Then he took another bite of the apple. "Mr. Professor, I don't know much about the great thinkers you mentioned," as he took still another bite of his apple. "Mr. Professor, I admit I haven't studied the Bible like you have," as he finished his apple and dropped it back in the bag. "I was just wondering, this apple that I just ate, was it sour or sweet? The Professor -- To which the old preacher replied, "With all due respect, sir, I was just wondering if you had ever had a taste of my Jesus?" The now-sighted blind man in today’s Gospel says, "Whether or not the cure was approved by the FDA, I once was blind, but now I see." You all argue and explain all you want, but that's enough for me. (Dr. J. Howard Olds) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) "Lead kindly Light": Video= (https://youtu.be/3j2hBSgZMrw) St. John Henry Cardinal Newman was a professor at Oxford University. When he was an Anglican priest, along with the other scholars, he started the Oxford movement. When he was thirty-two years old, his health was bad, and he took a break from his writings and went to Europe to recuperate. But unfortunately, he contacted a deadly fever. He wanted to return to England, but no transportation was available. As he waited, his life became lonely and tedious; he was experiencing great physical and emotional despair. It is then that he penned a beautiful hymn asking God for light: “Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on: Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see: the distant scene -- one step enough for me.” -- In his confusion and distress, Newman prayed to the God of Light to lead him from darkness to light, from confusion to certainty, and from sickness to health. God heard his prayer and led him home safely. In 1845, he was converted to the Roman Catholic faith. [John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) As a small child, he lost his sight: Rev. Tony Campolo, in his book Carpe Diem [(Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), p. 17.], tells a story from the life of a man whom many consider to be one of the truly creative minds of the twentieth century. He is known as a philosopher, thinker, visionary, inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet, cosmologist, and more. R. Buckminster Fuller was born in Milton, Massachusetts on July 12, 1895. Throughout the course of his life Fuller held 28 patents, authored 28 books and received 47 honorary degrees. And while his most well-known artifact, the geodesic dome, has been produced over 300,000 times worldwide, Fuller's true impact on the world today can be found in his continued influence upon generations of designers, architects, scientists, and artists working to create a more sustainable planet. So numerous are his achievements that a list of his inventions would fill a good-sized book. Fuller explained that the source of his creativity was a painful misfortune that occurred during his childhood. He described how, as a small child, he lost his sight. He went to bed one night able to see and awoke the next morning, blind. Medical experts were not able to explain the cause of his horrific and sudden blindness. There was no reason for it. It just happened. For several years young Fuller remained blind. Then, just as suddenly and as inexplicably as he had lost his sight, he regained it. Without any indication as to what was coming, one morning he woke up able to see again. -- In retrospect, Fuller explained, that tragic time proved to be a blessing in disguise. Upon regaining his sight, he found the world miraculously new and strangely wonderful to him. Along with his renewed vision, he put to use the creative imagination developed during his years of blindness. He claimed his excitement for life was intensified beyond anything that would have been possible had he always been able to see. Don't you imagine that this man Jesus healed had that same excitement about life? (Rev. Frank Lyman) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) "Why has this happened to me? The Hoover Dam, built in 1935 on the Colorado River, is an engineering wonder. Hoover is what is called an arch-gravity dam. It is so designed that greater the pressure applied to the dam the more it is wedged into the solid rock. The greater the forces against the dam, the stronger it becomes. -- So, let it be with us. When heartaches come, as they will, let us not cry out, "Why has this happened to me? Why has this happened to someone I love? What have I done to deserve this?" Rather, let's surrender our need to a healing God. Let's allow our hurt to wedge us ever more surely into the solid Rock. (Rev. King Duncan) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) “Now I see.” During the Depression of the 1930s, a boat captain managed to make a modest living by piloting his boat up and down the Mississippi River. His boat was old and needed repair. The engines were grimy, emitting soot and smoke. The captain was untidy and rude. It so happened that on one of his trips, he met a traveling missionary, who introduced him to Christ and the Gospel. The captain’s conversion was profound and authentic. One of the first things he did was to clean up his boat and repair its engines. The deck and deck chairs were freshly painted, and all the brass fixtures were polished. His personal appearance and demeanor were transformed. Clean-shaven and with a smile he greeted his customers who remarked about the change in the man. -- In reply, the captain said, “I was spiritually blind, but now I see people and events as they really are. I have gotten a new glory and it shines out in all I do. That is what Christ does for a person -- gives him clear vision and a glory.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) Blind to the need for a change of heart. There is a Sufi story about a Muslim on a horse who was determined to kill the enemy he was pursuing. In the middle of the chase the call to prayer rang out from a mosque. Instantly, the Muslim got off his horse, unrolled his prayer mat and prayed the set prayers as fast as he could, then got back on his horse and continued the chase. -- He had fulfilled the requirements of the law but was blind to what the law really required: namely, a change of heart. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13)"You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!" When William Montague Dyke was ten years old, he was blinded in an accident. Despite his disability, William graduated from a university in England with high honors. While he was in school, he fell in love with the daughter of a high-ranking British naval officer, and they became engaged. Not long before the wedding, William had eye surgery in the hope that the operation would restore his sight. If it failed, he would remain blind for the rest of his life. William insisted on keeping the bandages on his eyes until his wedding day. If the surgery were successful, he wanted the first person he saw to be his new bride. The wedding day arrived. The many guests – including royalty, cabinet members, and distinguished men and women of society – assembled together to witness the exchange of vows. William's father, Sir William Hart Dyke, and the doctor who performed the surgery stood next to the groom, whose eyes were still covered with bandages. The organ trumpeted the wedding march, and the bride slowly walked down the aisle to the front of the church. As soon as she arrived at the altar, the surgeon took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and cut the bandages from William's eyes. Tension filled the room. The congregation of witnesses held their breath as they waited to find out if William could see the woman standing before him. As he stood face-to-face with his bride-to-be, William's words echoed throughout the cathedral, "You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!" -- Author Kent Crockett, who tells this story in his book, Making Today Count for Eternity, writes: "One day the bandages that cover our eyes will be removed. When we stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ and see His face for the very first time, His glory will be far more splendid than anything we have ever imagined in this life." Rev. Frank Lyman (Sisters Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pp. 101-102). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) The eye-opening prayer of a pastor with guts: His prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: "Heavenly Father, We come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good.’ But that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of speech and expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our Forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"
-- The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, The Rest of the Story, and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our Nation and wholeheartedly become our desire, so that we again can be called "one nation under God." (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) "Wwwwhat ddddid tttthe tttturkey ddddo?" I am reminded of a very devout Christian woman who went to a pet store. She saw this beautiful parrot, immediately fell in love with it and decided to buy it. Well, the owner knowing this lady said, "Lady, I cannot sell you that parrot." The lady said, "Why not?" He said, "Well, you see, he was owned by a sailor and he curses a blue streak." But the woman was not to be denied. She said, "I will change that parrot and turn him into a good parrot. I do want to buy him." She took that parrot home, believing that with some Christian love and firm discipline he could be changed. No sooner had she gotten that parrot home and the parrot began cursing and swearing just as the man had warned. Well, she looked at that parrot and said, "I will not have that kind of language in this house, and if I hear any more of it I am going to put you in the freezer for ten minutes and teach you a lesson." Well, the parrot continued to swear, so the woman took the parrot out of the cage and put him in the freezer. After ten minutes she took him out. The shivering parrot looked at her and said, "Pppplease, Llllady, wwwwould yyyyou ttttell mmmme jjjjust oooone tttthing? Wwwwhat ddddid tttthe tttturkey ddddo?" -- When Jesus and his apostles passed a man, bline from birth, the apostles asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” he replied, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him,” and promptly healed the man. Likewise, we are sinners, spiritually blind from birth, thanks to Adam and Eve’s legacy of Original Sin, but for the same reason, that God’s work might be manifest in us, Jesus healed us from our “blindness” through His obedient, loving acceptance of His Passion and Death on the Cross. Our job is to accept that amazing grace and live our Faith out in our lives. (Rev James Merritt) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) “When he stands up, he can turn around!" The story's told about a couple who lived on a beautiful piece of ground in an isolated area. In the course of time, the husband died. Before he died, he expressed his strong desire to be buried upon their property. His widow made the necessary arrangements with a funeral service center for digging grave in the North- South direction. But the diggers said: “We always dig them East and West because it has something to do with the Lord’s second coming from the East and the risen people facing Him.” But the practical widow insisted: "Dig it like I laid it out. -- When my husband stands up at resurrection, he needs no glasses and hearing aid to turn around and see the Lord coming from the East!" (Gerald Hill, Powderly, TX). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) Not seeing with both eyes: John Killinger tells the story of a man who visited one day in a classroom for visually impaired children. Troubled by what he saw, the man remarked, insensitively, in their presence, "It must be terrible to go through life without eyes." One little girl quickly responded, "It's not half as bad as having two good eyes but still not being able to see." -- Her point was well made. There is physical blindness, and there is another, even more tragic form of blindness that affects the spirit. Both forms of blindness are present in today's Gospel reading. (Rev. Johnny Dean). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) “Now I see again!” During World War II John Howard Griffin was blinded in an airplane explosion. For the next 12 years he couldn’t see a thing. Then, one day he was walking down a street near his parent’s home in Texas. Suddenly he began to see “red sand” in front of his eyes. Without warning, his sight returned again. An eye specialist explained to him later that a blockage of blood to the optic nerve, caused by the explosion, had opened, causing his sight to return again. -- Commenting on the experience, Griffin told a newspaper reporter “You don’t know what it is for a father to see his children for the first time. They were both much more beautiful than I ever suspected.” (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) "We don't do that. We BELIEVE in it!”: On an ABC News Special, In the Name of God, Peter Jennings interviewed the founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, John Wimber. Wimber said that the first time he went to Church he expected dramatic things to happen, but they didn't. After attending Church for three Sundays, he became frustrated. After the worship service, he approached a man who looked like someone with authority. "When do you do it?" he asked. "When do we do what?" the man replied. "You know, the stuff," Wimber answered. "And what stuff might that be?" the man asked. "The stuff in the Bible," Wimber said, becoming more frustrated by the moment. "I still don't understand," the man replied. "You know," said Wimber, "multiplying loaves and fish, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving sight to blind people. That stuff." "Oh," the man said, apologetically, "we don't do that. We BELIEVE in it, and we pray about it. But we don't actually DO it! Nobody does, except for those crazy fundamentalists." -- Today’s Gospel tells us the story of a blind man who believed with trusting Faith and was healed. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) “Corpses do bleed.” There was a man in a psychiatric hospital one time, and one of his problems was that he was convinced he was dead. The psychiatrist tried every trick in the book, but nothing could change his mind. Finally, as the psychiatrist thought, he got a brilliant breakthrough. He got the man to agree that a corpse is lifeless, and therefore, not having any blood circulating, it cannot bleed. Having got a clear acceptance of that simple fact, the psychiatrist proceeded to drive home the point. He got a pin, took the man's finger, and gave him a good enough prod to draw blood. He squeezed the finger until the blood was clearly evident, and he then proclaimed, "Now can you see? That's blood. You are bleeding." -- The man looked at the blood in apparent disbelief, and then he turned to the psychiatrist with a look of amazement, and said, "Well, what do you know! Corpses do bleed!" The Pharisees in today’s gospel were not different from this mental patient. (Biblical IE). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
21) “A poor sinner, your brother.” In Vienna in Austria there is a Church in which deceased members of the former ruling family in Austria, the Hapsburgs, were buried. When royal funerals used to arrive, the mourners would knock at the door of the Church to be allowed in. A priest inside would ask, “Who is it that desires admission here?” A guard would call out, “His Apostolic Majesty, the Emperor.” The priest would answer, “I don’t know him.” They would knock a second time, and again the priest would ask, “Who is there?” The funeral guard outside would announce, “The Highest Emperor.” A second time the priest would say, “I don’t know him.” A third time they would knock on the door and the priest would ask, “Who is it?” The third time the answer would be, “A poor sinner, your brother,” and the funeral cortege would be admitted for the funeral. -- We all require inner vision to recognize who we truly are and thus to guard against spiritual blindness as taught by today’s Gospel. (Fr. Tommy Lane) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
22) Bearded wisdom: Early in his career, young Clarence Darrow was defending a client against an older, more experienced attorney, who sarcastically dismissed Darrow as “that beardless youth.” Darrow rebutted, “My worthy adversary seems to downgrade me for not having a beard. Let me reply with a story: The King of Spain once dispatched a youthful nobleman to the court of a neighboring monarch, who sneered, “Does the King of Spain lack men that he sends me a beardless boy? To which the young ambassador replied, “Sire, if my King had supposed that you equated wisdom with a beard, he would have sent a goat.” -- Clarence Darrow won the case! Prejudice often blinds us. (Bennet Cerf). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
23) Spiritual Blindness: A sixty-year-old woman living in a mid-western town was finally prevailed upon by her family to see the eye doctor. She had never worn glasses in her life. The doctor gave her a thorough test and asked her to return in three days when he would have her glasses ready. He fitted the glasses and asked her to look out of the window. Almost breathless, she exclaimed, “Why, I can see the steeple of our church, and it is three blocks away.” “You mean you have never been able to see that steeple at that short a distance?” asked the doctor. “Gracious no”, she declared, “I never knew I was supposed to see that far.” “Madam”, said the eye expert, “you’ve been going for years half-blind.”-- Similarly, many cannot see the truth which God has made known to us…(Msgr. Arthur Tonne) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
24) Have you heard of the great writer Helen Keller? She was born in the late 19th century in Alabama. Shortly after her birth in 19 months she contracted a serious sickness, a severe fever, which she ultimately survived from but that left her deaf and blind for the rest of her life. She could have easily given up hope, but she did not. Her father who was a writer himself put her in touch with Alexander Graham Bell who organized a teacher for her. The teacher taught her how to read, to speak and to behave. She accomplished a lot in life, reading and writing in Braille, going to the Radcliffe College, withstanding the taunts of those who mocked at her, graduating with a degree in Arts and writing a book etc. At times it was tough for her but through this painful process she only grew as a strong and confident person who stands as a model of hope for those who have disabilities. -- In our lives, too, we can be spiritually blind or turn a deaf ear to the unjust happenings that surround us. The readings for today highlight the metaphor of darkness/light and in turn assure us that Christ is our light. By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help in our lives (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
25) What Does 20/20 Vision Mean? Visual acuity is usually measured with a Snellen chart. Snellen charts display letters of progressively smaller size. "Normal" vision is 20/20. This means that the test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that person with normal vision sees at 20 feet. 20/40 vision means that the test subject sees at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 40 feet. Another way of saying this is that a person with 20/40 vision has vision that is only half as good as normal - or, objects must be at half the normal distance for him to see them. A person with 20/20 vision is able to see letters 1/10th as large as someone with 20/200 vision. 20/20 is not the best possible eyesight however, for example, 20/15 vision is better than 20/20. A person with 20/15 vision can see objects at 20 feet that a person with 20/20 vision can only see at 15 feet. 20/20-- Normal vision -- Fighter pilot minimum: Required to read the stock quotes in the newspaper, or numbers in the telephone book. 20/40 -- Able to pass Driver's License Test in all 50 States. Most printed material is at this level. 20/80 - Able to read alarm clock at 10 feet. News Headlines are this size. 20/200 - Legal blindness. Able to see STOP sign letters. (source: https://www.eyecaretyler.com/resources/how-the-eye-works/what-does-2020-mean/). -- We have eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye drops, caps that shade our vision, polarized lens that eliminate glare. We can have perfect vision, and it does little for us in dark room, much less a pitch-black room. We start fumbling for the light switch right away. Christ restores our vision to its fullest spiritual potential through his light and his perfect vision. (E-Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
26) The blind genius: Jacqui Kess-Gardner narrates a touching story of how she received light and insight into God’s plan (cf. “These Are the Children We Hold Dear,” Guideposts, May 1997, p. 28-31). When Jermaine, her second baby was born, one eye was sealed shut and the other was a milky mass. He had no bridge to his nose and his face looked crushed. Anger at God surged through her. She could not stand anyone staring at her baby and avoided going out of the house. What hurt Jacqui the most was not getting any smiles from Jermaine, which is common in blind infants who cannot mimic a smile because they do not see anyone smiling at them. She felt it was another slight from God. Her younger sister, Keetie pleaded with her insistently: “Jacqui, you’ve got to pray to God to forgive you. You’ve got to come back to Him. He has a plan.” She resisted. One day when Jermaine was six months old and strapped to her back, she found herself crying as Keetie pleaded with her once more on the phone. She put down the spoon she was using to stir the spaghetti sauce and repeated the words Keetie was praying: “Lord, forgive me. I have been angry at You. I’m sorry. Help me trust in Your wisdom. I know You have some plan in this. Help me see it.” Two months later God’s plan was revealed. Jacqui recounts: “Jamaal had been practicing the piano in the family room, playing ‘Lightly Row’ again and again. (By then I had taken to leaving Jermaine strapped to his high chair next to the piano while his brother played.) He had just finished, and came downstairs to the bedroom where my husband James and I were sitting. Suddenly a familiar plink plunk-plunk, plink plunk-plunk floated down the stairs. I looked at James; James looked at me. It couldn’t be Jamaal. He was jumping on the bed in front of us. We stared at each other for a second, then tore upstairs. At the piano, his head thrown back, a first-ever smile splitting his face, Jermaine was playing ‘Lightly Row.’ The right keys, the right rhythm. It was extraordinary.” Jacqui thanked Jesus and she knew that Jermaine had found the incredible gift of God. At two-and-a-half, the marvelous blind boy was playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. When he was four, he performed with Stevie Wonder. At age five, he played for Nancy Reagan at the White House. He appeared on national television and received invitations to perform from far and wide. The dream of this blind boy who has brought so much light, inspiration and joy to others is to start a music school for the blind. The proud mother happily affirms: “God had a plan for our son. He did indeed.”-- Jacqui’s Paschal experience from a situation of spiritual darkness to light gives us a glimpse of the fascinating spiritual journey of the Man Born Blind presented in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 9:1-41). (Lectio Divina). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
27) A crucifix, a Divine Mercy image, and a Bible. There’s nothing surprising about a Catholic keeping those three devotional items about. What’s surprising about these particular items is where they’re housed: inside the locker room of the Carolina Panthers football team. Or to be more precise, inside the locker of Panthers wide-receiver Chris Horn. The devotional items housed in his locker are just one of the ways the Idaho native lets his teammates know about his Catholic faith. Horn’s faith is no secret in the NFL, mostly because as Horn, 28, moved through the ranks of professional football, he discovered that the more open he was about his Catholicism, the easier it was to live his Faith. He also discovered that the more open he was, the more chances he had to help others. Now teammates regularly seek counsel from him on issues ranging from abortion ethics to marital problems. Even before he felt free to share his beliefs, Horn still took his faith seriously. The second oldest of five, he remembers his mother coming home early in the morning after working all night and forgoing sleep so she could take the children to Mass. “Her sacrifices and lessons were priceless”, Horn recalled. Now married and the father of two, Horn and his wife, Amy, try to provide the same kind of faithful witness to their young children. Together, they’ve twice prayed the yearlong St. Brigitte novena for each of their children, and family Mass-going and family prayers are integral parts of daily life. In the world of professional sports, where an injury or a bad season can quickly end a career, that daily practice of Faith provides a steady foundation for Horn’s family. Conversely, the discipline that years of training for his sports demanded has helped Horn grow in the practice of spiritual disciplines – prayer, forgiveness, charity. -- Horn knows the lessons he’s learned about the Faith through football are lessons others can learn as well, which is why, a year ago, he joined Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC). The recently founded organization, made up of athletes and former athletes, uses sports as a platform to teach the Faith. Through speaking engagements and conferences arranged by CAC, Horn regularly speaks to youth and men’s groups about God, the Church and football. According to Horn, “As Catholics we haven’t always been as vocal as we need to be about our Faith. But because of the importance our culture gives to sports, we can use athletics as a way to start talking to people about it and reach people who might not normally be open.” (Lectio Divina). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
28) Blinded by prejudice: In the late 1700s, the manager of a large hotel in Baltimore refused lodging to a man dressed like a farmer. He turned the farmer away because he thought this fellow’s shabby appearance would discredit the reputation of his distinguished hotel. The farmer picked up his bag and left without saying a further word to anyone. Later that evening, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than the Vice-President of the United States - Thomas Jefferson! Immediately, the manager sent a note of apology to the famed patriot, asking him to come back and be his guest in the hotel. Jefferson replied by instructing the messenger as follows, “Tell him I have already reserved a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no room for a common American farmer, then he has no room for the Vice-President of the United States of America.” [Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
29) Dr. Larry Baker became totally blind because of a viral infection when he was 25. The doctor told Baker, “I’m afraid that I have to tell you something that will affect the rest of your life. You will never see again.” Baker replied, “Doctor, I understand what you are saying, but I will determine the effect [this will have on my life].” Baker took what would be a devastating blow to anyone else, and made it a pivotal point from which he grew and expanded his horizons. When Baker lost his sight, he was married, with three children and working for a family dairy delivering milk. Now Baker decided he wanted something more than that. Taking advantage of a scholarship offered to persons with sight disabilities, Baker entered Indiana University and received a bachelor’s degree, ranking fifth in a class of 780. He also received the Presidential Achievement Award, and went on to earn his Master’s and Doctor’s degrees in Business Administration He served as a university professor for 10 years. Then he formed his own company, Time Management Center, Inc. in St. Louis. He now presents time management seminars internationally, and his company produces more than 60 publications on time management and related subjects. -- Baker believes everyone has some disability, some lack of ability to do something that they need to do. “The most severe disability I have ever encountered,” he says, “are people who are paralyzed from the neck up--people who are not coping with change in ideas and concepts. We make progress by our willingness to make changes.” Baker learned to ski after the age of 45 and urges his listeners not to let people set limits for them. “Nobody has ever gone broke giving more than they receive,” Baker said. “Have faith in God, your family, friends, and last, but not least, have faith in yourself. Set your objectives and pay the price.” (Rev. King Duncan). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
30) Letters to such fictional and historical persons by Pope: In his insightful and entertaining book, Illustrissimi, Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I), penned a series of letters to such fictional and historical persons as Mark Twain, Pinocchio, Figaro the Barber, Hippocrates, Guglielmo Marconi and Jesus. Luciani’s correspondence with these famous figures reflected the fact that he was first and foremost a pastor. Taking to heart the ancient Christian maxim, “per verbum ad Verbum,” he believed that a believer could reach Word of God through the study of the literary word. Within the familiar, conversant style of each letter, Luciani taught some aspect of the Christian ideal. The pope who died within five weeks of his 26 August, 1978 election, wrote in his letter to David, king of Israel, “The Bible presents the various components of your personality: poet and musician, brilliant officer, a shrewd king, sometimes involved--alas! not always happily--with women and in harem intrigues with the consequent family tragedies; and, nevertheless, a friend of God, thanks to your noble piety, which kept you aware of your insignificance in the face of God.” (Illustrissimi, Letters from Pope John Paul I, Little, Brown and Co., Boston: 1978). David’s insignificance is also acknowledged in this excerpted reading from 1 Sm. Youngest son of Jesse, left at home to tend the family’s flocks, David was nevertheless, the one who was chosen by God to be king because the “Lord who looks into the heart” (vs 7) judges people according to a different standard. David’s youthful inexperience which appeared to his father, brothers and even to Samuel to be an obstacle which would have prevented his accession to the throne did not deter the saving plan of God. (Sanchez Files). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 21) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604