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Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, April 2-3, 2011

posted Apr 3, 2011, 10:57 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

Fourth Sunday of Lent

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

April 2-3, 2011



            John Newton was an sailor in 18th century England.

Most probably, you have never heard of him.

He had been raised by a devout Christian mother, learning Bible verses and attending church each Sunday as a child.

But after he began his life a sailor, John Newton became anything but a good Christian.

He became involved in the slave trade ... and his general way of living became so immoral that it shocked even his fellow sailors ... until ...

... until one day, his ship encountered a storm at sea so terrible that everyone on board despaired of making it through.

And, at that terrifying moment, John Newton found himself thinking of his mother, remembering those Bible verses, praying for deliverance, and facing the ugly reality of the life that he had been living ... and that night, John Newton repented ... and, when the ship miraculously made it back to port, he left the sea, entered the seminary, and became a zealous pastor ... And, remembering how he had lived in the blindness of sin all of those years, John Newton wrote a hymn—a hymn known to all of us—the first verse of which I would like us to sing right now ... Amazing Grace.

It's in our Music Issue, # 437.


"I was blind but now I see ..."


            Today's Gospel story is about blindness ...

It's about a man born blind ...

... a man whose natural blindness was cured at the touch of Jesus ...

... a man whose spiritual blindness was healed when he came to see that Jesus was the Lord, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God ... his savior ...

Faith in Jesus ... true faith in Jesus ... healed that man's spiritual blindness ..

... and the man who had been born blind became a believer ... a follower ... a disciple of Jesus.

He was no longer blind.

He could see.


            Today's Gospel is a story about blindness ...

It's a story about the blindness of the Pharisees ...

The Pharisees had their natural sight.

They thought that they could see.

They didn't think that they were blind.

But the Pharisees couldn't see ... they wouldn't see ... they refused to see ... that Jesus was the Lord, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God ... the Savior.

And so the Pharisees, who thought that they could see, were even blinder than the man who was born blind .. even when he was blind.


            Today's Gospel is a story about  blindness.

And it's a story that's meant to raise a question about who's really blind ... and who isn't?

In fact, the story asks each and every one us: Are you blind?

Are you and I blind?

Are we blind ... in the way that really, ultimately, matters?


            Because you can be someone with 20/20 vision in both eyes ...

You can be someone who "believes in God" ...

You can be someone who says that you're a Christian ...

And still be blind to reality.

And, if you are one of those many, many people who look around at life and think that what you see, what you can get, what you can earn, what you can buy ...  is all that there  really is ... or is all that is really important .... or all that is really worth having ... then, even with your 20/20 vision in both eyes, you'd still be blind.

If you're one of those people who can look right at the good things in your life, great and small, ... and not notice them ... or think that you have them just because you earned them ... or you got them just by chance ... then, you're blind.

And ... if we look at the hard times in life ... at the struggles and the pain and the losses ... and we don't see God present with us even there ... and then we suffer from a sadly all-too-common but real form of blindness.

The fact is that you can have 20/20 vision in both eyes and still be blind as a bat.


            Can you and I see ... or not?

Can we really see ... or not?

Are we blind to the truth ... the truth that Jesus is the Lord of all—and he must become the true Lord of our lives ... the truth that it is the life that he teaches that is the only life worth living ...the truth that God is the source of all our blessings ... the truth that God is truly present to us at each and every moment, both good and bad ...?

Are we blind ... or do we see?

Because if we truly see, then ... like the man born blind but given his sight ... then ... we must worship him ... and we must become ... today, at this moment, here and now ...  we must become more truly believers ... and followers ... and disciples of Jesus.


            Let's sing again that first verse from Amazing Grace in the Music Issue, #43.