Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Light of Faith

Last week as we read the story of the woman at the well we shared in a person’s personal journey of an awakening of faith and of coming to an understanding about how the things which happen to us are all part and parcel of that awakening. In today’s story we hear how that faith can and will be tested and interrogated not just by the circumstances of our situa- tions but also by those around us who will openly challenge and deride what we both believe and profess.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the story of the man born blind is the somewhat ironic invisibility of Jesus. Initially Jesus performs the sign of giving the man his sight but he then disappears from the scene and the man is left by himself to face the taunts and questioning of the Jews. It is as if he is being made a very public example of what we our- selves may sometimes be called upon to be, namely apologists for Christ. How does he do it?

To be honest it can seem like a very frightening task, but if we follow the sequence of the story we quickly find a familiar pattern developing. At first he recognises Jesus as the one who cured him, describing him as ’the man called Jesus’. Following further questions he concludes that this man must also be a ’prophet’. This causes a bit of controversy among the Pharisees such that even his parents don’t really want to get involved. ‘Ask him yourself ‘ they reply, and the man defends the actions of Jesus to the degree that he proclaims him as ’from God’! It is an amazing epi- sode played out between the man and the Pharisees. He has withstood their questioning and it is at this point, after he has been driven away and cast out, that Jesus goes in search of him and finds him and puts to him that most challenging of questions. The man’s faith remains intact and he professes Jesus as ’Lord’ – a title used primarily when talking about the risen Christ.

The whole thing is an tremendous incident which speaks to us on so many different levels, but the basic and fundamental essence of the story re- volves around being enlightened. As followers of Christ our faith will have to stand up against the questions which often cause us to hesitate and doubt. Why do bad things happen to good people? How are we to make sense of the evil that so often blights our world? There are no easy an- swers and suffering seems to have a mysterious and incomprehensible role in all of this, as somehow being intimately associated with how we are to understand our lives. Is it that as part of the redemptive pattern of love, suffering opens us up to accept that love? It is a tremendously diffi- cult lesson for us to learn and one which we rile against as being futile and unnecessary, as St Peter tried to argue. It is though as we shall dis- cover next week, a lesson which Christ teaches us though his going to the cross.

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