Scripture Passages: John 9:1-16 / Ephesians 5:8-14 / Psalm 23
Lent is a season for looking closely at the meaning and purpose of our lives personally and as a community of faith. This year our Lenten journey has brought us into unexplored territory. With peoples all over the earth, we have been challenged by the appearing of a virus that is highly infectious. To resist the spread of this virus we are learning how to practice personal hygiene and avoid contact with others. This includes not going to Church on Sunday morning.
In conversation with others it was decided that I should send a few words related to the lectionary passages for this week. Sharing my thoughts on the texts will offer your imagination opportunity to think about your personal faith experience and also our shared experience. Should any questions or comments arise as you read, I will be happy to receive them and will do what I can to respond. You can send your thoughts by email or you can call me on the phone.
The Gospel of John is considered to be a book of signs. Jesus goes about doing amazing things and each of these points to a spiritual insight. The reading this week presents Jesus encountering a person who has been blind from birth. The disciples with Jesus ask a question about the cause of the blindness. They want to know whose sin caused the blindness. Jesus responds by saying that the cause of the problem is not at issue. Rather, the blind person presents an opportunity to see the grace of God at work. We also notice that the text includes us in the doing of works that bring grace into the lives of those we meet along our way.
Jesus is presented by John as the light of the world. Light allows us to see what is hidden by darkness. This is central to the opening of the blind person's eyes. Jesus performs a symbolic action and instructs the blind person to go to a pool and wash his eyes. Following the instructions leads to the blind person being made able to see. Those who are watching from the sidelines have different opinions. Some suspect that the seeing person is not the blind person but somebody else. The blind person tries to make clear that he has been healed by Jesus.
John then tells us that the person with recovered sight is brought to the Pharisees. These religious leaders want to know how the blind person's sight was restored. They discover that the healing took place on the Sabbath day. This leads them to question the legitimacy of Jesus. For them keeping religious rituals was more important that doing good for others. They conclude that Jesus is not rightly related to God. Their position leads to public debate with some taking Jesus as faithful to God and others taking him to be unfaithful because of the Sabbath violation.
For me, the main point of John's story is about light casting out darkness. Jesus is the light of God and makes it possible for one lost in the dark to be saved. This having to do with spiritual reality becoming visible to persons immersed in material darkness. The words and deeds of Jesus point to the presence of God at the very heart of our lived experience. That presence has been obscured by sin, understood as separation from the light of God which leaves us in the dark.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians talks about light casting out darkness. Light is here understood as the truth of God and darkness as the error of our ways. We have opportunity, through faith, to open our eyes and look at the world the way it really is. Paul makes clear that doing good is how we share the light of God with others. He encourages us to put away the works of darkness and expose them for what they are. We are called to wake up and go forward confidently in the light of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus.
Turning to Psalm 23 we discover a strong message of encouragement. God is the one who watches over us. We are provided with all the basic needs of our life and assured of protection regarding the negative effects of sin in the world. We are told that even when passing through great darkness we have no reason to be afraid. God's spirit is present to keep our spirit in the way of life. This not only as light in times of darkness but as well being at the heart of our being and in all of our relations.
We are now passing through the valley of dark shadows. By our trust in God's word we are encouraged and strengthened to make a positive difference as the days lead us forward. As children we sang songs about letting our light shine in the dark. This is the meaning and purpose of our life in this world and leads us confidently forward along the way opening to eternal life.