Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some ideas from the 9am mass Homily


As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, 
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned; 
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him, 
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, 
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, 
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe 
that he had been blind and gained his sight 
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, 
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed 
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind 
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, 
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses, 
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing, 
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners, 
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, ADo you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, 
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment, 
so that those who do not see might see, 
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this 
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin; 
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.


Jesus goes beyond the expectations of the scribes and his disciples.  He goes beyond a sum of religious practices and rules.  And he goes beyond the idea of his disciples, that to follow God means prosperity and lack of troubles and misfortunes.  Jesus reveals a God that is bigger than our expectations, specific rules and circles of friends. A God that is bigger than our evil actions and our many sins.  A God that is also bigger than unsuccessful results, even when our actions are good and even when results might appear contrary to what people consider “a life of prosperity” and "blessings from God". 

Brothers and sisters, God knows that we tend to label people like the Pharisees.  He knows that, also like the Pharisees, we can sometimes consider ourselves to be the ones that should be the role models for everyone else. "Not I", you say?  But don't we sometimes think that those who are not living according to our narrow standards and criteria are somehow not included in God's blessings? In effect, if we keep that mentality, we acting as if we are the judges of who gets to go to heaven and who goes to hell… we are at risk to taking the place of God.

But the expectations of the disciples are off as well.  Like them, we can think that sin must be involved every time we see a broken life, grave illness or ugly circumstances.

Brothers and sisters of Saint Mark, it is important for us to see what Jesus is doing in the Gospel today.  He wants us to broaden our narrow way of seeing things.  He wants to show us that every single aspect of our own lives, every human misery in the world around us, every problem in society and in its institutions, and every one of our families CAN and MUST be redeemed and transformed by HIM.

Let me say a word about the clay and saliva on the eyes of the blind man...  We should try to put ourselves in the shoes of the blind man for a moment.  Jesus is bringing him to his limits. He is asking something difficult, something that doesn’t make sense at all.  He does the same with us - he stretches us, sometimes even doing things in our lives that those around us don't understand.  Most of the time, this is what it takes to bring us out of our comfort zone. Another way of saying this is, this is what it takes to make us learn to TRUST in Him. He wants us to learn to have complete trust in Him, and in His plan for us.  Yes, He wants us to make our plans, but then to entrust those plans to Him.  He wants the chance to have something to say about our plans. He wants to give us a word of advice.  We should let Him, don’t you think? We should trust less in our own plans, and more in His plan of salvation (of which we are a part).  

What logic can we find in Moses hitting the rock with the staff?  It must have looked ridiculous to those he was leading in the desert.  But He did it, trusting in God.  How many of us here are ready to be like Moses?  To accept some of the things God asks of us, even if that makes us vulnerable to questioning looks, or even rejection?  To accept what God asks of us, even if it doesn't make any sense to those who are closest to us?  

Members of Saint Marks Family, what if I ask you to go into the neighborhoods around our parish as a WITNESS to your baptism, and with the AUTHORITY that you all receive in your confirmation?   What if I ask you to go like the blind person in the Gospel (He was so courageous!) to share with our neighbors the good news that God loves them with unconditional love, that we, here at Saint Marks, care for them, pray for them, that we consider them part of our family.  What if, through you, God wants to bless them even more and get to spend with The Holy Week Celebrations?  

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